Even though former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has a history of relationships in Hollywood, his chief rival in the race to become California’s next governor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has raised nearly twice as much from donors tied to entertainment and the arts.

As mayor,  Villaraigosa sought the counsel of studio heads, fought for state tax credits to keep film and television production in the city and mingled with celebrities on the red carpet at film premieres and HBO parties. In return, members of the entertainment industry backed his political ambitions.

But as Villaraigosa runs for governor, potentially the final chapter of his political career, Hollywood is divided. Villaraigosa brought in about $887,000 from donors tied to the arts and entertainment sectors, a respectable haul, but Newsom has raised $1.7 million  from the same group, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times of financial disclosure reports filed with the state through the end of July.

“It’s a bit surprising,” Donna Bojarsky, a veteran entertainment industry political consultant, told The Times, noting Villaraigosa’s ties to Hollywood predate his two terms as mayor. “Antonio was the first modern mayoral candidate that really reached out and got Hollywood support,” she said.

Newsom, in fact, leads the pack across most sectors, including technology, finance, legal and labor, raising nearly $16 million. Villaraigosa lags behind with $5.1 million. But the entertainment and arts contributions make up a greater proportion of Villaraigosa’s total fundraising, 17 percent, compared with nearly 11 percent of Newsom’s haul, The Times reported.

The other candidates in the race have been largely ignored by these donors. State Treasurer John Chiang has raised $182,000 from the entertainment industry and art world, according to The Times. The remaining three top candidates — Democrat Delaine Eastin and Republicans Travis Allen and John Cox — received few donations from these donors.

—City News Service

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