Over the past couple of weeks, the L.A. press has been making big, and predictable, noise that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom has been treading on L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's supposed turf–both politicians will probably run for governor in 2010–and attempting to woo Southern California voters. 

Yesterday, for example, Newsom held a town hall meeting in Santa Monica, and earlier in the day he appeared on a local radio show with Ryan Seacrest. But Variety managing editor Ted Johnson hits upon one of the most important reasons Newsom's in town: He wants L.A.'s money.

For decades, any major candidate for any major office in state and national politics comes to Los Angeles for political contributions.  As one fund raiser for Obama once told me, “Los Angeles is a an A.T.M. machine.” But instead of withdrawls in amounts of twenties, candidates can expect ONE lucrative night to rake in several millions of dollars.

When Obama was making the rounds in California around this time last year, battling Hillary Clinton, there was an obvious buzz in Hollywood that the senator from Illinois was the hipper candidate to back–and movie producers and directors, entertainment lawyers, actors and actresses, and the rest threw their money at him.

Newsom hasn't generated a similar vibe yet, but he's certainly working at it–while many elected officials from California, including Antonio Villaraigosa, made a recent mad dash to Washington D.C. to apparently capture some of that stimulus money, Newsom stayed in the state, talking with voters at town hall meetings. Those town hall meetings, though, will be hard to continue if he doesn't win over the big money in L.A.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

LA Weekly