Warren Brings Campaign to the Golden State

Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren hit the road this week in an effort to tap into the pocketbooks of wealthy Democrats around the country as her Senate campaign gains momentum nationwide.

Warren made pit stops at fundraisers in Philadelphia and Denver yesterday while en route to California, where she will spend several days fundraising and visiting family. She will hold a campaign event in San Diego Thursday before making the short trip north to Santa Monica for a high-profile fundraiser that evening at the home of entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham and actress Heather Thomas.

Democrats said that Warren’s stop in California is a sign of her candidacy’s growing prominence on the national political scene. The race in Massachusetts is one of the most important in the country this fall, and Warren’s bid has become something of a cause célèbre among Democratic activists, with 61 percent of campaign donations coming from outside of her home state.

“Anybody’s who’s a superstar they bring to California. That’s the bottom line,” Los Angeles Democratic Party Chairman Eric C. Bauman said. “California is always a key destination for major Democratic candidates from across the country as we have many very significant Democratic donors in our state.”

The fundraising trip to the West Coast this week is not the first of her campaign. Warren attended a fundraiser co-hosted by television producer Norman Lear and actress Barbara Streisand on her behalf in early November.

Warren has already raised nearly a million dollars in California—almost 20 percent of which is comprised of individual contributions—according to Federal Election Commission documents. Much of that support has come from Hollywood, where big names have lined up to donate and spread the campaign’s message. In addition to Streisand and Lear, the campaign has received donations from actor Danny DeVito, composer Hans Zimmer, and producer Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Though the City of Angels is typically a Democratic fundraising hotspot, Bauman said Warren is attracting more attention and support than usual.

“You have who she is as a person and what she stands for—which is very motivating to Democratic donors and activists,” Bauman said. “And on the other hand you have her as someone who has a very real possibility of taking away a Republican seat, and on top of that the seat she’s trying to take back is Teddy Kennedy’s.”

Warren’s campaign stops in the golden state have garnered criticism from some Republicans.

The Massachusetts Republican Party released an online video advertisement Wednesday painting Warren as Hollywood’s “It Girl.” The black and white newsreel-style ad highlighted Lear’s fundraiser—calling it Warren’s “debutante ball”—and suggested the consumer advocate was a hypocritical elitist for accepting money from wealthy donors.

Democrats have dismissed the advertisement as a political diversion.

“Tomorrow, Scott Brown will vote for an extreme bill he co-sponsored that will allow employers and insurance companies to deny women coverage for contraception, prenatal care and any other health care they need, so it’s no surprise that today, one of Wall Street’s favorite Senators is trying to change the subject,” Massachusetts Democratic Party Communications Director Kevin Franck wrote in a statement.

Sen. Scott Brown made his own two-day fundraising trip through Florida last week with Sen. Marco Rubio but has raised the majority of his money, 66 percent, within Massachusetts.

—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at nicholasfandos@college.harvard.edu.

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