Conservatives Use Cory Booker's Connection to 'Hollywood Liberals' Against Him

8:27 PM PST 10/03/2013 by Paul Bond
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Cory Booker

"Help us defeat these Hollywood liberals," the Conservative Campaign Committee said in a recent email sent to thousands of Republicans nationwide that mentioned such celebrities as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

During his bid for senator, Newark Mayor Cory Booker has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars off of celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, Eva Longoria and Steven Spielberg.

Now, with New Jersey’s election less than two weeks away, a conservative group is attempting to use Booker’s close association with Hollywood against him.

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"Help us defeat these Hollywood liberals," the Conservative Campaign Committee said in a recent email sent to thousands of Republicans nationwide. The email mentioned several celebrities who are backing Booker and included photos of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

The email cites a CNN report about the "liberal actors" who have been raising money for Booker at swanky events in California. The email asks for donations to help elect Booker’s opponent, Republican Steve Lonegan.

Lonegan and Booker are seeking the U.S. Senate seat that was held by Frank Lautenberg until he died in June. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has set a special election for Oct. 16, and Booker has become the latest cause celebre among rich Hollywood politicos. In April, for example, a party at producer Jerry Weintraub’s Beverly Hills mansion raised $500,000. Co-hosts included Disney CEO Bob Iger, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Sony CEO Michael Lynton and Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

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And a few weeks ago, billionaire businessman Ron Burkle, partial owner of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins, co-hosted a Booker fundraiser along with Michael Eisner, J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Garner, Weintraub, Damon and Affleck.

Lloyd Marcus, chairman of the Conservative Campaign Committee, said the email invoking Booker’s ties to Hollywood was particularly effective, generating thousands of small donations, as opposed to the donations of up to $10,000 apiece that Booker raises at celebrity events.

"Our supporters were motivated to offer a counter-force to Hollywood," Marcus said. "It became something of a David vs. Goliath."

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Other conservatives, such as Sarah Palin, are also picking up on the theme. "Unemployment nearly doubled, taxes skyrocketed, and violent crime increased," Palin said this week, describing Newark under Booker. "But in fairness, Newark Mayor Cory Booker may not have noticed these facts between his constant tweeting and trips to Hollywood."

And Marcus said his group is not done connecting Booker to rich and famous Hollywood liberals, as another email that highlights Winfrey, Damon and Affleck is set to go out Friday night.

"After a week of working hard to make ends meet for their families, we are going to pool together the support from thousands of everyday Americans," Marcus said. "Booker has been a regular in the Hollywood circuit and befriended many a celebrity at cocktail parties… We think voters will appreciate much more Steve Lonegan’s workhorse approach than Cory Booker’s show-horse approach."

E-mail: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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