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As governor's race ramps up, a pro-Villaraigosa group received $8M. Get used to hefty donations




California Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks in conversation as part of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) 2017 Speaker Series on California's Future on June 6, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
California Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks in conversation as part of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) 2017 Speaker Series on California's Future on June 6, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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California is roughly six months out from the November election when voters will choose the next governor.

As the race heats up, LA philanthropist Eli Broad has donated $1.5 million dollars to the independent pro-charter school group, Families & Teachers for Antonio, which supports Antonio Villaraigosa for Governor. Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings threw in $7 million to the group's coffers. 

California Lieutenant Governor and current gubernatorial front runner Gavin Newsom called those donations a "jaw-dropping amount of money." 

It can appear like a lot compared to campaign spending in the 2014 governor's race, which was uncharacteristically low. But "if you look at the 2010 gubernatorial race where Meg Whitman spent over $140 million dollars of her own money, it's not particularly jaw-dropping," said Claremont McKenna College political professor, Jack Pitney

But Pitney also warns that new rules for making it to the primary, will mean more money flowing into the bid for governor. "This is the first truly competitive gubernatorial race under the top-two system," said Pitney. "It's a different kind of dynamic and one would expect to see more independent expenditures as the weeks go on." 

The top-two system means that California could wind up with two Democrats competing for the spot, which would make for a much more difficult win for either Villaraigosa or Newsom. If one of the leading democratic candidates was up against one Republican candidates, Pitney said they could say, "game over, the Democrats win," and spend the remainder of the campaign "sipping mint juleps."

There are caps on how much can be donated directly to a candidate but not for independent expenditures that work to get a candidate elected, but do not coordinate directly with the candidate's campaign. 

In short, get used to seeing those big bucks flowing into the race for governor.