Hollywood has long been a favorite punching bag of political campaigns. But last week’s Connecticut primary may have marked the first time a candidate criticized another for attacking the entertainment biz.
According to the Washington Post, challenger Ned Lamont’s campaign sought to remind voters that Sen. Joseph Lieberman once targeted rap music for promoting violence and drug use. (Oh, and there’s the war.) Lieberman lost his bid for the Democratic nomination and will now run as an independent.
This year, lambasting an opponent for accepting showbiz money or linking them to liberal celebs might not get a candidate much traction.
“I don’t think you’ll see a lot of Hollywood-bashing in this election,” says Charlie Cook, editor of Cook Political Report. “People are worried about the economy and making ends meet and a myriad of other issues.”
A host of Senate, House and gubernatorial candidates have been trekking to Hollywood recently to raise money, and the industry seems to have prepared for the midterms.
The TV nets, the MPAA and other industry groups have launched a $300 million campaign to educate parents on the v-chip, a move that could neutralize election-year attempts to legislate against indecency.
And, in a curious twist, it was a Republican, not Democrat, who was bitten last week by a Hollywood association. Tom McClintock, right, running for California’s lieutenant governor, had to distance himself from supporter Mel Gibson, who had penned a fund-raising letter on McClintock’s behalf before the thesp’s Malibu mishap.
That’s not to say a candidate’s showbiz ties won’t come up at all.
In a recent debate, Virginia Sen. George Allen espoused his “Virginia values” vs. the “Hollywood values” of his opponent, Democrat James Webb, an author who was secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and credited with the story for the movie “Rules of Engagement.”
And then there’s the case of a certain Republican congressman in Ohio, whose Web site, LostInZackSpace.com, linked his Democratic challenger to various wealthy liberals, including producer Steve Bing.
The site may not be up for long. That congressman, Bob Ney, linked to the Jack Abramoff scandal, has dropped out of the race.
(William Triplett in Washington contributed to this report.)