LA Is Money

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This is Kevin Roderick with LA Observed for KCRW.

Today was my first day in a new club. Like a lot of other Angelenos, I've now been caught in an Obamajam.

I've written about the traffic nightmares that go along with a rush-hour visit by the President. Even an earlier instance of Bushlock.

But I'd been lucky to escape actual entanglement with Obamajam.

Until this afternoon.

Circumstances dictate that I drive from the Westside to Koreatown at the same hour that President Obama would be heading to Hancock Park.

I couldn't get out of it. But I'm not really that unhappy about the disruption.

Having Obama come to LA so often is a sign that even though California weighs in late in the presidential primaries, we matter in national politics.

We matter a lot.

Obama's second visit in less than a month is for the same motive as the first, just a few weeks ago.

He's helping the Democrats take in major money for next year's election fights.

Tonight's fundraising bashes are heavy on the Hollywood names -- but not exclusively so. When the president leaves town tomorrow, after a quick visit with Jay Leno, he'll have checks in his virtual pocket from more than the usual suspects.

Today's first stop is at the home of producer James Lassiter. Co-hosts include the actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett, and the attendees are expected to include some of the city's more monied African American business tycoons.

For $35,000 and change per couple, they get to exchange a few words with Obama as he works the tables.

That's the way it usually works at these high-roller events. The very, very high rollers get some quiet time with the president.

The merely high have to be satisfied with a brief snatch of small talk while everyone else looks on.

Then it's off to the nearby home of the actors Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, for a sit-down event aimed at the city's wealthier Latinos.

It's the first time Obama has headlined a big fundraising soiree with Latinos, apparently. Many of them supported Hillary Clinton the last time around.

One of those reformed Clintonistas, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, has been rehabilitated in the eyes of the Obama camp.

He's been given a prominent role at tonight's event, with hints of a greater role to play through the campaign, and maybe beyond.

The actress Eva Longoria is one of the co-hosts, along with the former local news anchor Giselle Fernandez.

Both events can be viewed as recognition that there is real clout – financial and political -- among LA's Latino and African American movers and shakers.

In fact, it's been a good year for the mansions of Hancock Park and Beverly Hills and Brentwood, speaking just of campaign fundraising.

Presidential candidates of both parties have been swinging through LA to raise money. Among Republicans, Mitt Romney has done the best at separating Californians from their cash. Texas Governor Rick Perry is next.

I expect we'll see more of both out here before it's over. Maybe another Obamajam or two. And that's OK with me.

For KCRW, this has been Kevin Roderick with LA Observed.