With the Nov. 8 midterm election just days away, Democrats are fighting to hang onto their majorities in the House and Senate, with help from Hollywood — both in terms of campaign donations and high-profile endorsements (like Oprah Winfrey’s backing of Democrat John Fetterman over her TV protégé Dr. Mehmet Oz in the U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania.)
For months, Hollywood politicos have been deeply involved in raising money to keep the Democrats in control. According to OpenSecrets.org, people from the TV/Movies/Music industries have donated more than $2.6 million to candidates this season.
But the latest polls show key U.S. House of Representative races tilting in favor of the Republicans, but the U.S. Senate is still very much up to grabs.
Here are some of the races on the Industry’s radar:
Amid the battle for control of the Senate, all eyes are on Pennsylvania, where a new poll has Republican Oz leading the race by 47.6% to 45.8% against Democratic Lieutenant Gov. John Fetterman.
Fetterman, who suffered a near-fatal stroke in May, had a narrow lead in the race until his recent debate performance on October 25, when he struggled to communicate his answers to some of the debate questions. A new state poll taken after the debate shows Pennsylvania voters Oz leading for the first time during the race, with a 1.8% edge.
Recently, Kerry Washington and John Legend posted videos on Twitter expressing their support for Fetterman, who has received nearly $337,000 from the entertainment industry this season. Donors include Keven Humane, Barbara Streisand, Christian Bale, Marta Kauffman, and Seth MacFarlane.
“After growing up in a working class family in Ohio, I moved to Philadelphia for college,” Legend said in his video endorsement. “And some of those open mic nights around town helped me start my music career. Pennsylvania and our entire country need John Fetterman.”
He added: “Our nation is at a turning point. We can’t afford to sit this one out.”
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock has raised $112 million, with $8.72 million from donors in California, for his re-election bid against Republican challenger Hershel Walker, according to Federal Elections Commission records.
The Georgia Democrat also leads the pack in donations from the entertainment industry, with nearly $1 million raised this cycle from high-profile Hollywood donors including Norman Lear, Debra Messing, JJ Abrams, Jeffrey and Marilyn Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, Heather Thomas, Wendie Malick, Mark Ruffalo and John Leguizamo.
Warnock, who also serves as senior pastor at Martin Luther King Jr.’s Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, has raised a total of $112 million, thanks largely to out-of-state contributions. (He’s raised about $5 million in Georgia.)
Walker, a Georgia football legend, has raised about $32 million, and holds a slight lead in the polls in this predominantly red state.
Hollywood loves a good underdog story. Throw in a modern theme of battling a pro-Trump Republican election denier, and that’s a script that will get some financial support. Some big names in the entertainment industry definitely see a potential hero in U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, and his quest to replace retiring Republican Rob Portman for a Senate seat in the reliably red Ohio.
Ryan is only slightly behind loyal Donald Trump defender J.D. Vance, a political newbie who gained fame for his 2016 memoir “Hillbilly Elegy.” According to FiveThirtyEight.com, he trails Vance by 3 percentage points in the latest polls.
In a recent trip to woo influential supporters in Hollywood and Los Angeles, Ryan held a fundraiser at UTA super agent Jay Sures’ Westside house. Sures, recently promoted to the position of vice chairman and board member at United Talent Agency, told TheWrap that the Ohio race is probably “the most important senate race where the Democrats can pick up a seat.”
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto is in a dead heat with Republican challenger Adam Laxalt in perhaps the closest race in the country. Laxalt has gathered strong support from the GOP, with his position of banning abortions after 13 week of pregnancy.
Cortez Masto has received about $5.3 million from California donors, roughly twice the $2.7 million donated by Nevada restidents. Her recent rally in North Las Vegas included appearances by former Pres. Barack Obama and singer John Legend.
Total spending by both candidates of $176 million has made this the most expensive campaign ever held in Nevada, according to AdImpact, a media-tracking firm.
Other financial supporters of Cortez Masto include Seth MacFarlane, Steven Spielberg, Ari Emanuel, J.J. Abrams, Kate Capshaw, Katie McGrath, Patrick Whitesell, and Rob Reiner.
Occasionally even liberal Hollywood supports a Republican.
U.S. Sen. John Thune, who holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Brian Bengs to win re-election in South Dakota, has received $117,500 in donations from the entertainment industry’s key political action committees.
As a ranking member of the Senate’s influential subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet, Thune is a big proponent of developing 5G broadband access across America — a big deal for the all-important streaming industry.
In recent years, Thune has received increasingly larger campaign contributions from the CBS Corporation PAC, Walt Disney Production Employees PAC, the Motion Picture Assn., Twenty-First Century FOX PAC, the National Association of Broadcasters PAC, Clear Channel Communications PAC, the Discovery Communications PAC, the FOX Corporation PAC and iHeartMedia, Inc.
“Movies have the power to transport us to far-flung corners of the world and put us in someone else’s shoes,” Thune said in an online message posted for the MPA’s 100-year anniversary. “The vast beauty of South Dakota has been well documented in movies and TV shows through the years.”