WASHINGTON – California lawyer Bruce Brusavich likes Democratic presidential hopefuls John Kerry (search) and John Edwards (search) so much he is helping throw fund-raisers for each about four miles apart on the same night.
Voters typically choose just one candidate during the presidential primary season. But like a gambler betting on horses, Brusavich is hedging his bets by trying to help keep both candidates afloat.
"I think we have to have kind of a win-place-and-show bet and help all the candidates that have the right philosophy. And then just see who can pull ahead," said Brusavich, who raised money for Dick Gephardt before he left the race.
Brusavich plans to attend both fund-raisers Feb. 12: One for Kerry in Beverly Hills followed by the other for Edwards in Los Angeles. Actor Dennis Hopper and his wife are co-sponsors of both events.
Longtime Hollywood political observer Marge Tabankin, who is helping with the Kerry reception, said several donors have given to multiple candidates because they want a feisty debate in the Democratic race.
Others are still on the sidelines, at least for now.
In New York, attorney Melvin Weiss said he and several other uncommitted donors have formed an informal group they call "Interested Democrats" and are holding off on giving during the primaries.
"We want the money to be spent on the campaign against Bush," Weiss said.
Andy Spahn, a spokesman for the DreamWorks SKG film and record company in Hollywood, said executives Steven Spielberg and David Geffen haven't contributed to a candidate yet.
California's primary isn't until March 2, and it is still a strong Democratic field, he said: "Additionally, this is Oscar season out here, and the focus is I think much more on that."
For the candidates, it's a season when every vote and every dollar is critical.
A day after Joe Lieberman quit the race, Wesley Clark's campaign staff agreed to forgo pay to help him afford campaign ads after poor showings in several delegate contests took a toll on his fund raising.
Clark, who barely edged Edwards in Oklahoma on Tuesday for his first victory, has at least enough money to get through next Tuesday's primaries in Tennessee and Virginia, spokesman Bill Buck said.
The staff at his Arkansas headquarters agreed to go without pay for a week so Clark can afford to go back on the air in Tennessee with a $133,000 radio and TV ad buy for this week, Buck said Wednesday.
Clark had a strong fund-raising start last year after waiting until September to enter the race. Helped by Internet fund-raising and several members of former President Clinton's political team, he raised about $14 million last year and had $3.4 million of it to spend as the primary season began in January.
He skipped Iowa's Jan. 19 caucuses, hoping for a win in New Hampshire a week later. He finished third.
Before Clark's New Hampshire loss, the campaign had been drawing about $60,000 to $80,000 a day online. After that, it slowed to $40,000 to $50,000 per day, Buck said.
Online donations picked up after Clark's Oklahoma win, with the campaign taking in $60,000 by late Wednesday afternoon.
Several party strategists and fund-raisers said Democratic money is now moving largely to Kerry. They see Edwards' fund-raising potential improving but not as strongly, Clark's weakening and Howard Dean reliant on his small-dollar Internet donors.
Fresh off wins in five states Tuesday, Kerry planned a fund-raiser in New York over the next few weeks, besides the California event. He also was meeting with his national finance team Thursday in New York.
Edwards, who won South Carolina on Tuesday and has finished strong in several other states, scheduled a pair of fund-raisers in New York on Wednesday night, along with one in Los Angeles next week.
Both have seen their Internet fund-raising pick up in recent days. Edwards raised more than $200,000 online Wednesday; Kerry has taken in more than $1.3 million since his New Hampshire win on Jan. 27.