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Maine Goes Hollywood: Big Celeb Donors Give To Senate Candidates

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Barbra Streisand, Mary Tyler Moore and Stephen King have a financial stake in Maine's high-profile U.S. Senate race. So does a founding member of the Grateful Dead and an actress who starred as a James Bond girl.

Other contributors include a former president, a current presidential nominee and the owners of two National Football League franchises.

The big-name donors listed in campaign-finance reports underscore why the race between Democratic congressman Tom Allen and Republican incumbent Susan Collins is so important: It's a test of whether moderate Republicans can still win in Northeast states that have steadily turned more Democratic with each election cycle.

"It shows the national character that the race has taken on, that major donors to Republicans and Democrats are giving to the candidates in this race," said Anthony Corrado, a campaign finance expert and government professor at Colby College.

In Tuesday's primary, Allen brushed aside a little-known Democratic challenger. Collins was unopposed in the GOP primary.

Neither candidate is likely to be strapped for cash because the two campaigns have already raked in a record amount for a political race in Maine, breaking the old mark of $8 million.

As of May 21, Collins had raised $5.83 million and Allen $3.93 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports.

Mary Tyler Moore gave $2,000 to Collins, a contribution linked to their mutual concern about diabetes. The campaign said the actress, who has the disease, is a longtime activist for diabetes research, and Collins is the founding member of the Senate Diabetes Caucus.

Allen took $1,000 from Streisand, a longtime donor to liberal causes, and $4,600 each from novelists Stephen and Tabitha King, who have long backed Democratic candidates. Other well-known authors lined up behind Allen were Richard Russo, who gave $750, and Tess Gerritsen, who gave $1,000.

Musicians supporting Allen include Don McLean, of "American Pie" fame, who lives in Camden and gave $500; Tom Lehrer, whose satirical songs made a splash in the 1950s and '60s, who gave $1,000; and bass guitarist Phil Lesh, a founding member of the Grateful Dead and a $500 contributor.

Collins took a share of Hollywood money with $2,000 from Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of such blockbusters as "Top Gun" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy. She also got $250 from Lois Chiles, the actress who played astronaut and CIA operative Dr. Holly Goodhead to Roger Moore's James Bond in the 1979 film "Moonraker."

The senator also got $2,000 from artist Jamie Wyeth; $4,200 from Robert McNair, owner of the Houston Texans; and $1,000 from Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV, owner of the New York Jets.

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara each gave $4,600 to Collins. Bob Dole, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for president in 1996, gave 2,800.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave $4,600 to Collins, who also received $1,000 from GOP political strategist Mary Matalin.

Allen received $1,000 from the political action committee of Bob Barr, the former Georgia congressman who was picked last month to be the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

Allen was the lone Democrat to receive contributions from Barr's committee. An Allen spokeswoman said the donation arose from Allen's efforts to repeal the federal Real ID law, which libertarians have said amounts to a national identification card program rather than an anti-terrorism effort.

Both candidates had their share of boardroom bigwigs and Wall Street financiers.

Collins' donors included IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano, at $1,000, and corporate raider Carl Icahn, at $2,300. Allen got $2,300 from American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault and $4,300 from financier George Soros.

Both Collins and Allen also turned back some money. Collins gave to charity $4,200 she received from Mississippi tort lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe a federal judge. Allen returned $1,000 from Norman Hsu, the disgraced Democratic fundraiser.


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