When it comes to campaign financing of Democrat presidential hopefuls, Hollywood’s ATM is open for business.
One after another, Dem candidates have been heading west to make their withdrawals. While there, they typically try to grab a bit of stardust wherever it can be found.
Former veep Joe Biden, mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, senator from California Kamala Harris, and senator from New Jersey Cory Booker have either already held Left Coast fundraisers or are in the process of scheduling them.
Harris has shaken the Tinseltown money tree a couple of times so far. She will be returning to the Golden State on May 19 for a campaign event in LA’s Hancock Park, hosted by Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein.
In the first quarter of the year, Harris was able to garner a greater amount of cash from individuals and entities in the entertainment biz than her fellow contenders. But that was before Biden entered the race. She now plans to hold a number of events in late May, including one co-hosted by media investor and producer Peter Chernin.
Booker has plans for a two-day LA tour starting on May 29, complete with several events hosted by prominent entertainment industry figures.
Hollywood has always been a tried-and-true money source for Democrat Party politicians. The Party and its candidates are well aware that when then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton sought cash for her campaign during the previous election cycle, contributors such as Haim Saban, Steven Spielberg, and Jeffrey Katzenberg donated mega-bucks to Priorities USA Action, a pro-Clinton super-PAC that was allowed to collect unlimited contributions.
Entertainment sources contributed $22 million to Hillary, and to the super-PACs aligned with her, through mid-October 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. By comparison, the same group of Hollywood donors gave less than $290,000 to then-candidate Donald Trump.
Biden and Buttigieg were the most recent candidates to seek financing from entertainment industry sources for their respective campaigns.
Back in 2007 Biden had a difficult time, though, competing with the then-presumed frontrunner Hillary and new face in town at the time Barack Obama. Currently, however, Biden’s chief advantage is the name recognition he has acquired, having been around in politics for the past fifty years.
As writer-director Adam McKay recently tweeted, “Free slogan for Joe Biden’s campaign: ‘You’ve heard my name before.’”
During his first Tinseltown trip of the 2020 campaign cycle, Biden’s notoriety paid off in a big way. Hollywood gave him a massive take in the form of a fundraiser at the home of ex-HBO executive and former ambassador to Spain James Costos along with his partner and ex-White House interior designer Michael Smith. The event brought in more than $700,000. The host committee included Katzenberg, Chernin, actor Rob Reiner, and CBS Films President Terry Press.
The former veep appears to be staying away from specific issues and is instead focusing on a liberal pie-in-the-sky cliché that he will somehow bring unity to the nation should he be elected.
“I promise you if we elect a Democrat this time — I predict to you whether it’s me or someone else, but I guarantee you if it’s me — what’s gonna happen is, we’re going to see this country come together like it hasn’t in a long time,” Biden said.
While on the Left Coast, he attended a lunchtime campaign meeting as well as a late afternoon public event with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Although Buttigieg is not as well known as Biden, Hollywood, the home of professional story tellers, is enamored with the saga of Mayor Pete’s unlikely contender status. Biden’s entourage may be concerned that Buttigieg could run the table like Obama did in 2007.
Even the most imaginative screenwriters have been intrigued with the idea of a military veteran who describes himself as a Christian, is openly gay, a Rhodes scholar, and mayor of a small city in Indiana, who has unexpectedly become a top-tier candidate, according to the polls in early primary states.
The Hollywood elites have already opened their establishments and homes to hold events to introduce Buttigieg to the entertainment community and to additionally raise campaign dollars. Buttigieg has notched television appearances on the shows of Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Maher.
At the same time Biden was in town, the South Bend mayor chalked up a slew of Hollywood events, including a breakfast organized by producer Jordan Horowitz, a public event with Garcetti at SEIU Local 99 to support a ballot measure to raise the parcel tax, a gathering with Gina Gershon, Christopher Guest, and Laurie David, a lunch in Brentwood, an event at The Abbey in West Hollywood, and a cash-seeking get-together at Gwyneth Paltrow’s home, where he answered questions from more than 100 attendees, including actors Bradley Whitford, Amy Landecker, and Martin Sheen, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, director Rob Reiner, Costos, and Smith.
Buttigieg is planning a momentum-seeking return trip to the Left Coast in June to raise money and connect with Hollywood power players, including a fundraiser at the home of producer Ryan Murphy and husband David Miller.
Expect the mayor to leave with piles of cold campaign cash with a lot more to follow.