California Primaries: 2 Congressional Races Hollywood Cares About Most

Presley Ann/Getty Images; Newscom

Wins by two buzzed-about Democrats in currently Republican districts, Katie Hill and Mike Levin, could help flip the House of Representatives.

For the June 5 California primaries, local Democratic activists are focusing on eight Republican congressional districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. While Hollywood is eager to support two buzzed-about Democrats in particular, Katie Hill and Mike Levin — whose wins could help flip the House of Representatives — both candidates face unique challenges pleasing both would-be constituents and industry supporters. 

Political newcomer Hill, 29, who is vying for Republican Steve Knight’s seat, may be based in Santa Clarita, but has attended more than 24 fundraisers at entertainment insiders’ homes in Hancock Park, Brentwood and Westside. (Kristen Bell, screenwriter Michelle Mulroney and attorney Marcy Morris are supporters.) “Honestly, I got lucky with the people who got behind the campaign,” Hill tells THR. After she announced her candidacy back in March of 2017 and caught the eye of Mulroney and Bell, things quickly snowballed. Now, just days before the California primary, Hill — the daughter of a cop and a nurse — is hoping that the support she has garnered from the entertainment industry can help catapult her into the general election.

But even in Hill’s L.A.-adjacent California District 25, which encompasses Simi Valley, Palmdale and Lancaster, taking money from celebrities and industry executives can cut several ways. Says Hill: “I have gotten criticism for spending time outside. But many of the people in my district can’t make these types of donations, and flipping the House impacts people in L.A. and across the country.” 

Mike Levin, campaigning to fill the seat vacated by Republican Darrell Issa of California Congressional District 49 in San Diego County, counts as supporters Cameron Crowe, George Takei and producer Talia Osteen, who raised $30,000 at a single event that featured Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham. “There is a line we have to walk; I don’t think Bakersfield cares what Hollywood has to say,” says Osteen. “But it’s not fair for other districts to say, ‘Stay in your district’ if it can change whether or not I can get health care or if it impacts whether my friends family gets deported. We all have a stake in this.”

A major L.A. donor laments that “these candidates have to code switch when they talk to us — they tell us that they aren’t running on an anti-Donald Trump campaign, but we aren’t motivated about Fullerton issues. We hate Donald Trump’s guts, you can’t come here and not address that.” 

A version of this story first appeared in the May 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.