Jeffrey Katzenberg Throws Political Might Behind Effort to Unseat Mitch McConnell

Mitchell Katzenberg Lundergan - H 2013
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Mitchell Katzenberg Lundergan - H 2013

The DreamWorks Animation chief raised millions to re-elect Obama -- now he's organizing LA events to unseat the GOP stalwart, throwing his support behind Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Democrats’ premier Hollywood fundraiser and donor, is throwing himself completely behind Kentucky secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes’ effort to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

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Democratic sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Katzenberg has decided to make the Kentucky senate race the focus of his efforts during the 2014 midterm elections, and Tuesday he sent out a letter urging local Dems to turn out on Grimes’ behalf during a two-day fundraising visit she will make to Los Angeles Sept. 25 and 26. So far, a luncheon at Il Moro restaurant is the centerpiece of that visit, but sources tell THR that a full schedule of other events will be added.

If Katzenberg's effort for Grimes comes close to his work for the Democrats during the last election, expect the secretary of state's Hollywood events to be star-studded affairs with every mogul in town on board. The 2008 election placed Katzenberg firmly on the map as Hollywood's new political kingpin. But a McConnell defeat could inch him closer to Lew Wasserman territory.

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“Alison is the antidote to McConnell and all he represents,” Katzenberg wrote in his letter, obtained by THR. “She can win, and she will win if she gets the support she needs. Despite McConnell’s name recognition and long tenure, an August 1st Public Policy Poll actually showed her leading by one point -- 45 percent to McConnell’s 44 percent.”

Diane Hamwi, Hillary Clinton's California fundraiser in 2008, is also on board as Grimes' California finance chair. Circulating Katzenberg's letter to her own network of donors, Hamwi wrote: "We can beat Mitch McConnell and Alison is the one to do it! As KY's secretary of state, she has already won statewide and at 34 years of age, represents our next generation of leaders."

The DreamWorks chief, who has “maxed out” on personal donations to Grimes’ campaign, urged Hollywood Democrats to support her LA fundraiser with individual donations of $5,200 and $10,000 per couple.

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Katzenberg called the Grimes-McConnell contest “a pivotal election that can get the Senate working again. ... There is no more important election being held next year in this country. As the Senate’s minority leader since 2007, McConnell has used the filibuster 420 times to block legislation and appointments that were supported by a clear majority of senators. … We are talking about outright obstruction of the democratic process.”

Katzenberg wrote that the Los Angeles fundraisers will be "a chance to help [Grimes] seize the momentum and get her campaign off to an early and strong start.”

It will have to be a very strong start, since the Republican leader already has amassed close to $10 million for his campaign.