Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams direct money to Peters for 2020 (not in a galaxy far, far away)

By: and - November 7, 2019 6:06 am

Image by Clovis Cheminot from Pixabay

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) has scored some major Hollywood donors for his 2020 reelection bid against Republican businessman John James.

Steven Spielberg | Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Peters landed $5,600 from filmmaker Steven Spielberg, director of such classics including “E.T.,” “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” Peters collected another $5,600 from director and producer J.J. Abrams, best known for his work on the “Star Trek” and “Star Wars” series. DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg also donated $5,600 to the Michigan Democrat. 

The movie moguls and their wives are prolific Democratic donors. Spielberg’s wife, Kate Capshaw, donated another $5,600 to Peters, as did Katzenberg’s wife, Marilyn. That’s the maximum allowed amount per cycle, and it includes $2,800 for the primary and another $2,800 for the general election. 

The first-term senator also received $5,600 donations from Detroit Pistons vice chairman Arn Tellem and from former President Barack Obama administration Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.

John James (left) and Gary Peters (right) | Photos by Ken Coleman and Andrew Roth

As the Advance previously reported, James, who announced his U.S. Senate campaign in June, raised about $3 million in the third period, which was his first full quarter in the race.

Peters raised about $2.4 million during that time. The incumbent has raised about $8.7 million over the cycle, however, compared to James’ $4.5 million so far. 

James also snagged some well-known business donors in what could be a competitive race next November. 

Prominent Republican donor David Van Andel, chair and CEO of Van Andel Institute, donated $5,600 to James. (Van Andel also donated $2,800 to Republican Peter Meijer, who is challenging incumbent independent U.S. Rep. Justin Amash in the 3rd District). Members of the West Michigan billionaire DeVos family have given James $36,400 this cycle.

James also received $5,600 from Chicago billionaire and real estate mogul Sam Zell. Former Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who spoke at this year’s Michigan GOP confab on Mackinac Island, donated $1,000 to James’ campaign in June. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) donated $500 to James that month.

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.

Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.