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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 PortmanRob PortmanSenators to Trump: Get tough on Russia over Ukraine John Glenn dies at 95 John Glenn hospitalized MORE (Ohio) and Roy BluntRoy BluntSanders: GOP blocked 'Trump proposal' to lower drug prices McConnell: We'll start Obamacare repeal on day one Could bipartisanship rise with Trump government? 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 RubioWhat Trump's Cabinet picks reveal House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief What the 2016 election can tell us about 2018 midterms MORE in the Senate. Murphy must first survive a primary election in late August against Rep. Alan GraysonAlan GraysonCould bipartisanship rise with Trump government? Schumer under pressure to add Sanders to leadership team Rubio wins reelection 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 BoxerSenate Dem blocks own bill over California drought language House passes water bill with Flint aid, drought relief Fight over water bill heats up in Senate MORE’s seat; and Colorado Sen. Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate passes college anti-Semitism bill Speculation and starting points: accreditation, a new administration and a new Congress The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate MORE, the only Democratic incumbent in the Senate seen as vulnerable.

Others making the journey west include New York Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSenate Dems hold out on spending deal, risking shutdown Dems see ’18 upside in ObamaCare repeal Confirm Gary Richard Brown for the Eastern District of New York MORE, Connecticut Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality Overnight Energy: Trump taps EPA foe to head agency | Energy reform bill officially dead CNN’s parent company promises to defend journalistic independence MORE, Vermont Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Passing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy MORE, Washington Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayReid defends relationship with McConnell in farewell speech Top Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape 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 KaineTim KaineGOP eyes big gamble on ObamaCare Senate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Clinton reappears on Capitol Hill for Reid send-off 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 Rodham ClintonSecret CIA assesment: Russia was attempting to assist Trump Joy Behar: Why do I have to be nice about Trump? Poll: Republicans think media ‘intentionally misled the public’ about polling 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 BrownStopgap funding bill poised to pass Senate before midnight deadline Democrats back down from shutdown threat Week ahead in defense: Anticipation builds for State pick; Pentagon chief's last trip abroad 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.”