Hollywood turns out big to rescue Reid, Senate Dems

Ashley Judd didn’t run for a Senate seat in Kentucky, but that doesn’t mean that Hollywood hasn’t propped up a candidate in the race. The Dude may not be abiding in Montana’s Senate race, but The Babs is abiding in Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire, and even Alaska. Hollywood has provided Democrats with a ton of cash for the midterm elections in an attempt to keep control of the Senate, and Alison Lundergan Grimes has been their biggest beneficiary:


Hollywood is pouring money into the midterm elections, with A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Barbra Streisand all coughing up blockbuster bucks.

The donations are largely aimed at keeping the Senate in Democratic hands. Republicans, who have the political winds at their backs, need to pick up six seats to win control of the upper chamber. …

One of the biggest recipients of the entertainment industry’s dollars is Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose is in a tight battle against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R).

Her donor list reads like a who’s who of Tinseltown: producer J.J. Abrams, Ben Affleck, comedian Jack Black, “Avatar” director James Cameron, Nicolas Cage, Danny DeVito, Cameron Diaz, DiCaprio, Jennifer Garner, director Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Jerry Seinfeld, Mike Myers, and “Mad Men’s” Jon Hamm all giving $5,200 each, the maximum amount an individual can give to a single candidate in a two-year election cycle.

Other Grimes donors include DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, Woody Allen, Ted Danson, America Ferrera, Leonard Nimoy, Streisand, “West Wing” writer Aaron Sorkin, Ben Stiller and Chris Rock.

Grimes got $100,000 from her Hollywood sponsors, more than twice that given to Cory Booker ($48,300), who has an easier ride to holding his seat in November. Booker doubles up on Michelle Nunn, who faces a much more competitive race for the open seat in Georgia, and who trails by six in a poll out this week against David Perdue. Even with her family name and its tradition, Nunn doesn’t even get to 42% against the Republican novice, which bodes ill for Democratic chances in the Senate race there.


For Grimes, this might be a particularly difficult situation to explain. She has tried to make herself into a friend of the coal industry and claims she’ll push back against the Obama administration’s increased regulation and hostility toward coal operators. Hollywood, however, isn’t known for its political tolerance of fossil fuels. If the money in Hollywood is going to Grimes — and not just in small measure, but almost more than that given to the rest of the top five combined — then Kentucky voters have to ask themselves who Grimes represents more: Hollywood liberals obsessed with global warming, or Kentucky and its core coal industry? At least Ashley Judd would have been more entertaining.

Even with all of this cash, prospects for Democrats to hold the Senate look more dim than a Lars van Trier interior scene these days. The combination of playing defense on so many seats and the unpopularity of Barack Obama made the midterms difficult enough, but Josh Kraushaar at National Journal writes that Democrats have another handicap as well — the autocratic and arguably irrational Harry Reid:

For all the internal Republican Party divisions, the GOP’s party committees and allied outside groups have overcome their biggest challenge entering the year. They’ve successfully navigated incumbents and favored Senate candidates through difficult primaries, avoiding the specter of terminally weak candidates emerging in battleground races. The same can’t be said for Democrats, who frittered away opportunities in South Dakota and Montana because of internal conflicts and botched maneuvering. Meanwhile, Democratic attempts to intervene in Republican Senate primaries haven’t worked, depriving several Democrats of the chance to run against weak challengers. Reid’s fingerprints are over all those moves, with his majority on the line.

“Reid loves to meddle in other races, especially when it involves him. I dubbed him the meddler in chief many years ago, though he’s much more adept in meddling in his own races than the outside ones,” said veteran Nevada political analyst Jon Ralston. “He thinks he knows better than any political consultant, and he doesn’t trust the polls.” …

Reid is the mastermind behind the Democrats’ strategy of tying Republicans to the Koch brothers, an unconventional strategy that’s been embraced by leading campaigns across the country. Democrats are hoping their attacks against the deep-pocketed, GOP-supporting businessmen will persuade voters that GOP candidates are beholden to a policy agendacatering to the richest Americans. But attacks against secretive moneymen are usually the last refuge of a party without issues to run on. In 2006, Republicans lamely tried to make Democratic donor George Soros an issue in the midterms. They lost control of both houses of Congress that year. And in 2010, President Obama made the Supreme Court’s Citizens Unitedruling a central issue in the midterms, calling the increased flow of outside money a threat to American democracy. That year, American Crossroads founder Karl Rove was the Democrats’ boogeyman. …

While the midterm elections are emerging as a referendum on President Obama’s performance, they’re also providing a verdict on the efficacy of Reid’s tactics. Publicly, Reid is dismissive of the possibility that Republicans could regain the majority. Privately, he must know that his challenges shaping the elections to his liking are related to the problematic position his party faces this November.


Can Hollywood rescue Democrats from Harry Reid and Barack Obama? It seems doubtful, but if not, Reid and Obama shouldn’t worry too much. Hollywood will eventually produce a movie extolling their brilliance and honesty in retrospect, even after their terrible demagoguery and incompetence becomes crystal clear to everyone. Just ask Dan Rather.

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