Hollywood's Pre-emptive Strike for Jerry Brown

Brown's early fundraising is "just being smart," says strategist Bill Carrick.

The Oct. 24 announcement of support from every major industry Democratic donor and studio head was an early show of force in the California governor's bid to stay in office.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Hollywood knows how to scare an audience. And when it comes to politics, there is nothing more frightening than a tsunami of money early in a campaign.

The message was clear in the Oct. 24 announcement that every major industry Democratic donor and studio head has pledged to support California Gov. Jerry Brown's re-election campaign. Even though Brown, 75, is skeptical of the expansion of state tax credits that Hollywood would like to see passed, he has loyalties in the industry going back to when he lived in Laurel Canyon and dated Linda Ronstadt.

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Now longtime Brown ally Andy Spahn, who advises Jeffrey Katzenberg, is seeking to create an aura of inevitability with a Nov. 21 fundraiser at the Bel Air home of Cindy and Alan Horn. Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen are co-hosting with a who's who of heavyweights pledging to give or raise as much as $54,400 for Brown. (Spahn helped put together a similar show of force for Brown in 2009, raising more than $1 million.)

"Jerry has done a great job as governor turning the state around," Spahn tells THR. "There is overwhelming support for his re-election." Although a primary challenge from a Democrat is unlikely, and there isn't exactly a line of Republicans out to oppose Brown next year, Hollywood's show of force sends a powerful message.

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Says Democratic insider Donna Bojarsky, "There's a real benefit to doing these fundraisers early, so you get them out of the way and people take notice."