Spielberg, Katzenberg, Geffen give endorsement

Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen are throwing their support behind Jerry Brown in next year’s California governor’s race.

The DreamWorks founders plan to endorse the state attorney general and former governor and co-host a fundraiser for him Nov. 18.

“This will be a big launching pad for his campaign here,” said Andy Spahn, their political consultant.

What it also does is set the stage for a significant battle for industry support between Brown and his chief rival, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom has held multiple events in industry circles since getting in the race last spring, and on Monday will be joined by former President Clinton for a fund-raising reception for his campaign at the Biltmore Hotel. Newsom’s campaign has drawn contributions from Harvey Weinstein, Ben Silverman, Ryan Seacrest, Skip Paul and Chris Silbermann, among others.

Brown isn’t officially in the race, but he announced Tuesday that he is filing papers to form an exploratory committee.

Spahn said the trio all have known Brown for various lengths of time.

“They all believe he knows the job inside and out and is the best qualified candidate to fix the mess in Sacramento,” Spahn said. “He was way ahead of his time in promoting the environment and renewable energy, on bringing diversity to government, and in championing the arts.”

Other co-hosts are expected to be named to the Nov. 18 event, and a location and donor levels were still being worked out.

The endorsement of Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen is sought out by candidates not just for the money raised but the sense of momentum it can bring in the entertainment community. In 2007, when they co-hosted a fundraiser for Barack Obama, it was viewed as a turning point in his efforts to win support in a community once assumed to be overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.

A Newsom adviser said in response to the endorsement: “Gavin Newsom is the candidate who can bring a new direction and real reform to California. We’re proud of all the support we’ve gathered in the entertainment industry. We look forward to their support after the primary.”

Meanwhile, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, running for the Republican nomination, has drawn a sizable chunk of donors, including Terry Semel, Harry Sloan, Bruce Ramer, Gordon Crawford and Charles Ergen.

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