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Joe Biden for President? ‘Draft Biden’ Effort Courts L.A. Backers

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Vice President Joseph Biden is looking seriously at jumping into the 2016 presidential race, in what was probably good timing for the group Draft Biden.

The group is hosting a reception on Wednesday at West Hollywood eatery Hutchinson Cocktail & Grill, led by Dr. Howard Mandel, a prolific donor and fundraiser. The invite says the event will include civic and community leaders, but one organizer said they expect a number of prospective bundler and political activists as opposed to entertainment names.

A Biden candidacy would shift the dynamics of the Democratic side of the 2016 presidential contest, but he would be challenged to raise money quickly given that so many bundlers, particularly in entertainment, have already committed to Hillary Clinton. Her list of donors reads like a who’s who of politically engaged industry figures. Jeffrey Katzenberg has been raising money for Priorities USA Action, the SuperPAC supporting her, and entertainment industry sources accounted for almost a third of the $15.7 million its raised in the first half of the year.

Biden has solidified his ties to the entertainment industry since his last run for the presidency in 2007 and 2008, when Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards commanded much of the attention when it came to drawing industry money. He also has spoken out on a signature issue for Hollywood, online piracy, and has made numerous treks to Los Angeles to appear at events for Democratic candidates.

In 2012, Biden attended an event with a group of LGBT donors and activists at the home of HBO’s Michael Lombardo and his husband, Sonny Ward, and later spoke of how much the event moved him when it came to supporting same-sex marriage. Lombardo and Ward, however, recently hosted Clinton at their home for a fundraiser for her campaign.

Last month, during a visit to Los Angeles to call for an increase in the minimum wage, Biden also was the headliner at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The event was hosted by Imaad Zuberi, a venture capitalist, who also is a bundler for Clinton’s campaign.

Still, one bundler for Clinton noted that Biden has the same advantage as she does: Name recognition. And then there is the changed nature of fundraising: With the proliferation of SuperPACs populated by donors writing six- and seven- figure checks, “All he needs to do is find a couple of billionaires,’ the bundler said. And some Clinton donors have expressed worry that if her campaign seriously falters, Democrats will lack a “viable” alternative, which may be less a big at Clinton than at Bernie Sanders, whose insurgent campaign

Draft Biden itself has been organized into a political action committee and is led by Will Pierce, its executive director, and Sam Jones, its finance director. It has raised $85,880 so far this year, according to the most recent filing from the Federal Election Commission. Mandel contributed $5,000, and Josh Alcorn, an adviser to Beau Biden, recently joined their group.

All they need is the candidate to enter the race.

Clinton, meanwhile, is back in Los Angeles again on Thursday, for a $2,700-per-person event at the home of Scooter Braun and his wife Yael Cohen. Braun is manager to Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, so the event is expected to draw heavily from the music industry. On Friday, she is scheduled to attend a fundraiser at the home of Irwin Jacobs, the co-founder of Qualcomm.

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