Hollywood Dems Stage Last-Minute Fundraising Drive to Save Senate Majority

AP Photo
Jeffrey Katzenberg is a major fundraiser for Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Major fundraisers are planned in September for Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn to boost faltering campaigns

With their control of the Senate hanging in precarious balance, Democrats are papering Hollywood with last-minute fundraising appeals, and three of the entertainment industry’s anointed political stars this season are coming west to make their eleventh-hour midterm cases in person.

One email invitation to the coming weeks' full calendar of events desperately urges industry Democrats to open their wallets because “there’s so much at stake.”

Two of the favored trio — Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky and Michelle Nunn in Georgia — have fallen narrowly behind in their senatorial races. Grimes now trails current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell by eight points and Nunn is six points back of former Dollar General CEO David Perdue, the Republican nominee. Both races, however, are rated as toss-ups, so a late infusion of cash might make the difference. In an email sent out over the weekend to Hollywood Democrats, Nunn was pitched as the candidate whose victory could give the party the “safety seat” they may need to hold control of the Senate.

Cory Booker, the former Newark, N.J., mayor who won a special term in the U.S. Senate last year, holds a commanding 15-point edge in his re-election campaign. Even so, the New Jersey senator was in town Saturday working the Hollywood crowd at a Writers Guild of American PAC fundraiser at the home of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner and Linda Brettler. On Sunday, he was guest of honor at a $1,000-per-person fundraising brunch at the Beverly Hills home of Metropolitan Theaters CEO Bruce Corwin and wife Toni Corwin.

On Tuesday, Nunn — who has been a frequent visitor to L.A.'s Westside this season — arrives back in town for an early evening reception at the Hancock Park mansion of media moguls Michael Kong and Stacey Twilley. Among the hosts contributing $5,200 each to fuel Nunn’s Georgia run are Keith Addis, Marcy Carsey, Sherry Lansing, Michael Lombardo and Sonny Ward, Howie Mandel and Nancy Stephens. Other tickets are scaled from $2,600 apiece down to $500.

Grimes’ Sept. 18 fundraiser is shaping up to be Hollywood's biggest A-list event this month. As with all of Grimes' previous Los Angeles fundraisers, DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg is once again a driving force. The studio chief has not only declared Grimes’ election his No. 1 priority of this electoral cycle but already has raised well over $1 million on her behalf. In this final push, Katzenberg appears to be pulling in support from all corners of the industry, including director James Cameron, who in recent years has been a donor to Republican candidates.

Among those kicking in $10,000 per couple in the final effort to push Grimes across the finish line are DC Entertainment president and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment chief Diane Nelson and screenwriter husband Peter Nelson; CAA managing partner Stephen Lafferty and wife Nikki Lafferty, an animal rights activist; Veronica Mars director Nick Marck and wife Linda Lichter, an entertainment lawyer; A&M Records co-founder Jerry Moss and wife Ann Moss; American Pie producer Chris Weitz; Gary Tobey, CEO of Target’s media-buying firm Haworth, and wife Suzanne Tobey; Golden Girls producers Susan Harris and Paul Witt. The event will be held at the Beverly Hills home of producers Rosalie Swedlin and Robert Cort.

Twitter: @tinadaunt.