Despite the more than 2,100 miles between Atlanta and Hollywood, California, celebrities are taking a big interest in two Senate runoff races in Georgia.
According to The Hill, actress Sophia Bush and comedian Kumail Nanjiani are among the co-founders of Win Both Seats, an effort to raise money to help Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeat Georgia Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue.
The outcome of the runoff vote Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years.
“I think that the fact that the control of the Senate comes down to the state is absolutely going to draw a tremendous amount of celebrity engagement,” Democrat strategist Howard Franklin told The Hill.
George Clooney, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Joaquin Phoenix, Jason Bateman, Mandy Moore, Patricia Arquette and Bradley Whitford are among the celebrities who have donated to Georgia’s Democratic cause, according to the outlet.
Many of them have tweeted to urge others to help Warnock and Ossoff.
— Leonardo DiCaprio (@LeoDiCaprio) November 12, 2020
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) November 11, 2020
— Mandy Moore (@TheMandyMoore) November 8, 2020
Some of them received blowback on social media.
We’re about to hit $1.5M raised for #Georgia in just 10 days! @WinBothSeats just received a $25K matching grant. Donate here and your support will be doubled!! Let’s elect progressives and make moves! https://t.co/VidFCd38YJ pic.twitter.com/9eP5XOVwyp
— Sophia Bush (@SophiaBush) November 22, 2020
UPDATE: We have raised $6 million (!) so far to help jumpstart the Jan 5 Senate runoff elections. Help keep up the momentum for @ReverendWarnock and @ossoff by donating at https://t.co/bqQFTB4mRL! #gapol https://t.co/pgTJyHndfR
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) November 9, 2020
Laura Young, an assistant political science professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, told The Hill that having celebrities involved in the campaign has a downside for Democrats.
“Celebrities are extremely helpful. They do play a role. But they’re oftentimes not viewed as credible sources,” Young said.
“Particularly if you’re on the right end of the political spectrum, Hollywood elites are looked at as the liberal left, coming to Georgia and imposing their politics and their political views on individuals,” she said.
Brad Jenkins, a former Barack Obama staffer, told The Hill the GOP “just can’t get any celebrities” to support its agenda.
“Republicans love to say, ‘Oh these out of touch Hollywood elites,’ but then in the same breath they’re retweeting Jon Voight or Chachi from ‘Happy Days,’” Jenkins said, referring to Oscar winner Voight and former “Happy Days” actor Scott Baio, both of whom support President Donald Trump.
Janelle King, a Republican consultant and co-founder of the group Speak Georgia, said the issue isn’t so much political activism from high-profile figures as it is having “people trying to influence the election that’s going to impact a state that they don’t live in.”
“It’s not just about being a celebrity,” King told The Hill. “It’s about being a celebrity who thinks they know what’s best for us.”