Hollywood doles out dollars for Senate Dems

Hollywood doles out dollars for Senate Dems
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Hollywood’s Democrats are ramping up their fundraising efforts for Senate races in hopes of regaining control of the chamber.

Democrats hoping to unseat Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanLongtime tax aide leaving Senate Finance Committee Ex-McConnell policy aide joining lobby firm WATCH: Sen. Flake: “More doubtful” North Korean summit will happen  MORE (Ohio) and Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Senate reaches deal on new sexual harassment policy Senators near deal on sexual harassment policy change MORE (Mo.) are among the candidates rushing to California to fill their campaign coffers.

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In an election year dominated by a presidential race, Senate Democrats hope to win attention and money for their contests with the high-profile fight to confirm Merrick Garland, the judge President Obama nominated to the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“Nothing highlights the importance of winning a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate more than the fight over a new Supreme Court justice,” Andy Spahn, president of public affairs firm Gonring, Spahn & Associates, told The Hill. “We are talking about generational change here, change that will outlast any one presidential term.” 

Since the beginning of the 2016 election season, Spahn — long considered Hollywood’s foremost political fundraiser — has met with a steady stream of senatorial candidates at his offices in the Universal Studios compound.

His visitors include Rep. Patrick Murphy (Fla.), who Democrats hope will replace Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAdministration works to assuage critics over ZTE deal Hillicon Valley: Judge rules Trump can't block Twitter users | ISIS content finds a home on Google Plus | Rubio rips ZTE demands as 'terrible deal' | Bill would protect kids' data Overnight Finance: Trump eyes 'different structure' for China trade deal | Trump mulls auto import tariffs | Banks get green light to offer short-term loans MORE in the Senate. Murphy must first survive a primary election in late August against Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonThe Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message Former Dem Rep. Alan Grayson to challenge for old House seat PolitiFact cancels Alan Grayson hire after backlash MORE.

Freshman Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) has come by. So have California Attorney General Kamala Harris, the favorite to win retiring Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerThe ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor Dems face hard choice for State of the Union response MORE’s seat; and Colorado Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Hillicon Valley: White House eliminates top cyber post | Trump order looks to bolster agency CIOs | Facebook sees spike in violent content | Senators push NIH on tech addiction | House to get election security briefing MORE, the only Democratic incumbent in the Senate seen as vulnerable.

Others making the journey west include New York Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — GOP centrists in striking distance of immigration vote Schumer: Trump should take Kim Jong Un off 'trip coin' Overnight Finance: Trump signs repeal of auto-loan policy | Justices uphold contracts that bar employee class-action suits | US, China trade war 'on hold' MORE, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Vermont Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDem senator mocks Pruitt over alleged security threats: 'Nobody even knows who you are' Pruitt tells senators: ‘I share your concerns about some of these decisions’ Protesters hold up 'fire him' signs behind Pruitt during hearing MORE, Washington Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Dems warn against changes to federal family planning program Overnight Health Care: Drug company under scrutiny for Michael Cohen payments | New Ebola outbreak | FDA addresses EpiPen shortage MORE, Wisconsin Senate candidate Russ Feingold and Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is hoping for a chance to challenge Blunt.

Virginia Senator Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineKaine demands answers on Pentagon missions in Africa Lawmakers push for House floor debate on war authorization Defense bill moves forward with lawmakers thinking about McCain MORE, a Hollywood favorite, will be back in town on March 22 for a fundraiser at the home of entertainment lawyer Joe Calabrese.

His appearance is being billed as a chance to meet a man who could be Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller moves ahead with Papadopoulos sentencing What's wrong with the Democratic Party? Just look at California BBC: Ukraine paid Cohen 0K to set up talks with Trump MORE’s running mate.

“Senator Tim Kaine is frequently mentioned as a top contender for vice president and this is a wonderful opportunity to meet him,” prolific Democratic fundraiser Yolanda Parker wrote in an email to Hollywood political figures. “Tim will fill us in on the dynamics of the Supreme Court vacancy (he has taught constitutional law and practiced fair housing law for many years) and on his travels in the presidential primary states.” 

Democrats need to retain the White House and gain four seats in the Senate to take back the majority they lost in 2014.

One race they are banking on is in Ohio, where former Gov. Ted Strickland won a Democratic primary this week to take on Portman.

Strickland will be in Los Angeles for a fundraiser hosted by actress Nancy Stephens and director Rick Rosenthal on March 31, according to an invitation obtained by The Hill. Ohio Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownTrump on collision course with Congress on ZTE Pa. health secretary: 'Sustainable funding' needed to attack opioid crisis The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — How long can a Trump-DOJ accord survive? MORE will be making a guest appearance.

In her email to fundraisers, Parker gave Strickland high marks on Hollywood issues.

“Ted played an instrumental role in the passage of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, expanding access to healthcare for millions of children nationwide,” Parker writes. “He fought tirelessly for veterans, the Appalachian region and working families. As governor, Ted championed the interests of Ohio’s working people at every turn.”

As for 34-year-old Kander, Parker said: “He has led the fight to clean up Missouri’s worst-in-the-nation campaign finance and ethics laws. Definitely a young man to support.”