Gavin Newsom opens $50 million donor network to Kamala Harris post 2020 endorsement

Key Points
  • A political spokesman for Newsom, Dan Newman, confirmed Monday that the governor has been reaching out to his past financial supporters to encourage them to back her campaign for president.
  • Newsom has been ramping up his efforts to court wealthy donors, who are mainly from his and Harris' home state of California, since at least the start of the second quarter, according to a person familiar with the efforts.
  • The Golden State governor helped raise $300,000 for team Harris at a fundraising event in May.
  • Newsom was a prolific fundraiser when he ran for governor in 2018 and finished the election cycle raising $50 million, according to the nonprofit organization National Institute on Money in State Politics.
Gavin Newsom, center, smiles next to his wife Jennifer Newsom, left, and Senator Kamala Harris, during a rally in Burbank, California, last May.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ever since California Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed Sen. Kamala Harris, he's been actively reaching out to his influential donor network in an effort to give her 2020 presidential campaign war chest a boost.

A political spokesman for Newsom, Dan Newman, confirmed Monday that the governor has been speaking with past contributors to encourage them to help finance her campaign.

Newsom has been ramping up his efforts to court wealthy donors, who are mainly from his and Harris' home state of California, since at least the start of the second quarter, according to a person familiar with the efforts. He endorsed Harris in February.

"Keep an eye on Newsom," the source with knowledge of the outreach explained on the condition of anonymity. "He's got the resources, connections and money to be a game changer for Harris."

Newsom's move could give Harris' campaign a needed lift. The senator has fallen behind in the fundraising game to the likes of Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

The leader of the Democratic primary fundraising game in the second quarter was Buttigieg with a $24.8 million haul. He was followed by Biden who brought in $21.5 million, Warren with $19 million and Sanders with $18 million. Harris finished with a $12 million haul during that time span.

Newsom was prolific fundraiser when he ran for governor in 2018 and finished the election cycle raising $50 million, according to the nonprofit organization National Institute on Money in State Politics.

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California, the largest state in the nation by population, moved its 2020 primary date from June to March to increase its impact in choosing the Democratic nominee. Since that decision, candidates have been flooding into the Golden State to try to sway voters and donors to their cause.

Newsom in May took part in a fundraiser for Harris that was hosted by business executive Gordon Getty, among others, Politico reported. With Newsom's help, the event raised $300,000 for the campaign, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter

Last month, Biden was hosted in the Bay Area by a former Twitter executive and bundlers who once helped former President Barack Obama. In July, Buttigieg attended a moneymaking event held by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Representatives from the Harris campaign did not return a request for comment.

While it remains unclear who he has successfully pulled over to the Harris camp, at least five of Newsom's top donors have already coughed up the max amount one can give directly to a presidential campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records. These financiers each spent just over $29,000 on Newsom's run for governor, records from the California Secretary of State show.

Mark Robinson, an executive at investment firm Centerview Partners, spent $2,800 on Harris in June while Andrew Hauptman, owner of Major League Soccer team the Chicago Fire, gave the same amount at the end of March.

A personal spokeswoman for Hauptman said Newsom did not introduce him to Harris and when asked how the two knew each other, she said "She's his senator," and "knows her and likes her." The soccer executive did spend over $1,000 on Harris' successful 2016 bid for a U.S. Senate seat, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Others who gave to Newsom and Harris for president include television producer Charles Lorre and Silicon Valley investor Ronald Conway. Conway gave Harris's senate campaign at least $2,700.

These donors are also writing checks to other campaigns, such as Buttigieg's and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker's, but records show they have yet to spend on Biden's effort.

Robinson, Lorre and Conway did not return requests for comment.