POLITICS: Campaigns

Hollywood celebrities investing in Kentucky Senate race

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Politics,Associated Press,Republican Party,Democratic Party,Mitch McConnell,Kentucky,2014 Elections,Campaigns,FEC,Coal

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is getting financial support from some of the biggest names in Hollywood in her bid to unseat Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Steven Spielberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Danny DeVito and Barbara Streisand were among a long list of celebrities in Grimes' first fundraising report to the Federal Election Commission.

Grimes received $2.5 million in contributions from July through September and still had $2 million cash on hand. McConnell raised $2.3 million over the same period, bringing his overall total to $17.7 million. He reported $10 million cash on hand.

Both have been working hard to raise money from inside and outside Kentucky. Grimes tapped into her celebrity windfall with help from Jeffrey Katzenberg, the chief executive officer of DreamWorks Animation, who hosted a Los Angeles fundraiser for her last month.

Donors included Leonardo DiCaprio, Kirk Douglas, Ben Affleck, Woody Allen, Nicholas Cage, Ted Danson and Ben Stiller, most of whom gave maximum $5,200 contributions.

Grimes, Kentucky's 34-year-old secretary of state, entered the race only after actress Ashley Judd, a former Kentuckian, decided not to challenge McConnell, the five-term GOP leader who has been targeted for defeat by Democratic leaders.

McConnell's campaign was quick to lambast Grimes taking money from "Hollywood liberals."

"You couldn't find a collection of people anywhere in America who are more hostile to Kentucky values and conservative principles than the ones on Alison Lundergan Grimes's major donor list," said McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore. "It sure is curious that she spends all her time chatting with professed enemies of coal, Obama enthusiasts and noted Hollywood liberals, but can't say a word about what she believes back in Kentucky."

Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton had no immediate comment.

McConnell, already Kentucky's longest-serving U.S. senator, is seeking re-election to a sixth term next year. Because of his leadership position in Washington and poll numbers that show him vulnerable in Kentucky, McConnell has become the top target for Democrats in the 2014 elections.

But unseating him is no easy chore in Kentucky, which has a track record of supporting Republicans in federal elections despite being predominantly Democratic by registration. Both of the state's U.S. Senate seats are held by the GOP, as are five of the six House seats.

McConnell sparked the Republican revival in Kentucky nearly three decades ago, helping to pick off Democrats in the state's federal delegation that was then sparse on Republicans.

McConnell faces a Republican primary challenge from Louisville businessman Matt Bevin, who raised $222,000 since July and loaned his campaign $600,000.

Grimes has only token opposition in the Democratic primary.

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