California polls will close at 8 p.m. PT, when Democrats are expected to have a host of victories including the reelection of Jerry Brown as governor. But before that, Hollywood progressives are braced for a rough few hours which could see the Democrats lose their Senate majority.
The most ominous sign was the early projection of Mitch McConnell as winner in a hard fought reelection battle against Alison Grimes. Jeffrey Katzenberg led the effort among industry Democrats to unseat the Senate minority leader, and it showed in stats: Grimes collected more money from showbiz than all other congressional candidates, just over $700,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Katzenberg hosted a number of events for the candidate, the most recently in September, even as McConnell and Kentucky Republicans tried to tar her as beholden to the Hollywood liberal elite, pegging her in ads with Barbra Streisand and even Woody Allen. The DreamWorks Animation CEO also gave $450,000 to the Senate Majority PAC, which backed Grimes, and last month hosted an event that raised $2.1 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
But it’s unlikely that Grimes’ embrace of Hollywood support would prove to be much of a factor in voters’ decisions, as those attacks from McConnell paled compared to others aimed at her and the unpopularity of President Obama in the state. One prominent industry Democratic activist pointed to the leadership of the Democratic National Committee and the lack of key operatives working on midterm campaigns. “How we lost Kentucky, with all the money that went into that race…” the activist said. The irony is that Kentucky has actually embraced Obamacare even though it is offered by another name and Democrats have tried to avoid it as an issue.
“Twenty years from now, Republicans will accept Obamacare as a success but they won’t call it Obamacare,” the activist said. “They will call it something else. He won’t get the credit.”
Other races being watched were in Louisiana, North Carolina, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Colorado and Georgia. A bright spot may be in Minnesota, where Al Franken has maintained a lead in the polls for a second term in the Senate.
Update: Katzenberg issued a statement on grimes’ campaign: “I’m immensely proud to have supported Alison. She ran a strong campaign. I’m certain she has a great future ahead of her in Kentucky politics.”