The campaign for Ted Strickland, a Democrat running to unseat Sen. Rob Portman (R.) in Ohio, has received an influx of cash from Hollywood, including donations from actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus and singer Barbra Streisand.
Strickland accepted nearly $30,000 in contributions from more than a dozen prominent Hollywood entertainers, producers, and executives in the first quarter of 2016, according to Washington Free Beacon analysis of recent Federal Election Commission filings. The cash contributed to Strickland’s best fundraising quarter yet, though the former Ohio governor and congressman still lags behind his competitor in the money race.
Among the Hollywood insiders who have donated to the Strickland campaign is actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who contributed $2,700 in March. Louis-Dreyfus is known for her former role on Seinfeld and her current stint starring in the political satire Veep.
Famed singer Barbra Streisand, a Hillary Clinton enthusiast, also contributed $1,000 to Strickland at the end of March. Strickland is a close ally of the Clintons and has received many contributions from top bundlers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton herself has benefited considerably from Hollywood donors.
Strickland also received thousands more in March from television producer Marcia Carsey; Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn; filmmaker Robert Reiner and his wife Michele Singer Reiner, a photographer; Everybody Loves Raymond producer Philip Rosenthal; film writer Susan Harris, who is famous for her work on Golden Girls; and other Hollywood executives.
Though the first quarter produced a noteworthy influx of Hollywood contributions for the Strickland campaign, the Democrat has previously accepted money from Hollywood figures. Filmmaker J.J. Abrams, famous for his work on Star Wars and television series Lost, contributed $2,700 to Strickland’s campaign last August. Actress Nancy Stephens, known for "Halloween" and roles on a number of television series, also contributed the maximum to Strickland’s primary campaign last August before giving donating to his general election bid this March.
It is unclear whether Strickland fundraised in Hollywood during the first quarter. A representative from the Strickland campaign did not respond to an inquiry about the funds.
Strickland’s campaign has not publicized its large donations from Hollywood, instead promoting its efforts as based on Ohio’s "grassroots."
"The strong, grassroots support our campaign is receiving is more proof that Ted’s message of fighting for working families is resonating with Ohioans," Strickland campaign manager Rebecca Pearcey said in a statement announcing the first quarter fundraising haul last month. "Ohioans across the state are backing Ted because they know he’s a champion for working people—that’s where he’s from, that’s who he cares about that’s who he'll always put first in the Senate."
The campaign has sought to draw contrast between Strickland and Portman, accusing the Republican of relying on billionaires and special interests to prop up his reelection bid.
"I think my ideas, my values, my experience is a better fit for Ohio than Rob Portman. I say that the Senate should not be a place where the millionaires go to take care of the billionaires, and I really think that’s been the history of Rob Portman in public life," Strickland told a local Ohio outlet last November. "I just think he’s looking out for those who are already well taken care of, and I want to work and advocate for the middle class."
While Strickland has received many contributions from Ohio residents, he has also capitalized on big donors from New York City and Washington, D.C., including several prominent lobbyists based in the nation’s capital.
Strickland’s campaign netted $1.5 million in the first quarter of 2016, leaving $2.7 million in his campaign account after expenses. Portman, meanwhile, has five times as much cash on hand as his competitor.