• Wednesday, May 27, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:38 am

Hollywood split over the 2020 Democratic Primary

  • Published at 07:45 pm March 2nd, 2020
Joe Biden
Former US vice president Joe Biden, who is running for President now, made an appearance at the 2016 Oscars IMDB

This year's confusion stands in stark contrast to 2016, when Hillary Clinton was Tinseltown's clear favorite

From Tom Hanks to Scarlett Johansson, Hollywood A-listers determined to see President Donald Trump defeated are badly split over the best Democratic candidate to back with their silver-screen dollars.

A search of federal donation records shows Hanks has cut a check for former vice president Joe Biden, while Johansson has donated to progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren.

"Cheers" star Ted Danson gave the maximum $2,800 to Warren -- but his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen, also backed Biden.

George Takei of "Star Trek" fame simply couldn't make his mind up. He donated to both Biden and former Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg.

According to Los Angeles-based Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, these split loyalties and multiple donations would be unusual any other year, but have been common in the 2020 race.

"Hollywood has always been a very important source of campaign fundraising for presidential candidates," he told AFP. "This time has been a bit different."

This is partly due to the large field of potential nominees, with many donors giving to as many as three candidates, Carrick said.

For Steven Maviglio, a Democratic strategist in California's state capital Sacramento, the stars "are as dazed and confused about who's the best one to beat Trump as everyone else."

This year's confusion stands in stark contrast to 2016, when Hillary Clinton was Tinseltown's clear favorite. 

"Hillary was out here in Hollywood all the time," said Maviglio. 

"I don't think anybody has measured up to what Hillary did last time around here."

Cocktail parties

In fact, some leading Democratic candidates have largely skipped Hollywood's glitzy private fundraiser circuit.

Frontrunner Bernie Sanders' message has attracted celebrities including Susan Sarandon -- and Dick Van Dyke, Sarah Silverman and Public Enemy will feature at his Los Angeles rally Sunday. Warren has drawn support from singer John Legend.

But both Sanders and Warren have blasted the closed-door, uber-wealthy soirees typical of Hollywood campaigns, in favor of pursuing vast numbers of small, online donations.

They have not "invested the time in Hollywood because they don't have the fundraising goals in mind," said Carrick.

Billionaire candidate Michael Bloomberg, who is self-funding his run for the White House, has focused more on harvesting support from elected officials in California than movie stars.

Trump factor

California is holding its vote early this year, on Super Tuesday on March 3 - meaning it should have a larger impact on the overall outcome of the Democratic race. 

As a result the focus has been less on securing Hollywood's cash and more on persuading the state's voters.

"California actually matters this time," said Maviglio. "In the past, the candidates came to California, held fundraisers in Hollywood and left to go back to New Hampshire and Iowa. 

"But here they're staying and campaigning with them, and actually doing real events that matter to people," he added. 

Wealthy studio executives, on-screen stars and talent agents - with their enormous client lists-- will become more valuable as the November election approaches, said Carrick.

"The most important catalyst for Hollywood contributions in fundraising is Donald Trump -- he is incredibly unpopular here," said Carrick.

Even so, the anti-Trump fever that has gripped Hollywood since his 2016 election has also diluted the impact of celebrity messages in the Democratic primaries, said Maviglio.

"It's got lost in the sauce a little bit," he said. "People are yawning more about it because we're just seeing every day, on every level, opposing Trump."

"And because they haven't got behind one candidate, they've made less of a difference."

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