SEATTLE — And the winners are ...
... a science teacher from New Jersey and a mom from Florida!
That’s right — Beth Topinka of Manalapen, N.J., and Karen Blutcher of St. Augustine, Fla., are the two lucky ladies who, along with their husbands, won an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles to have dinner Thursday with President Obama and actor George Clooney.
Obama started his west coast swing Thursday with a stop in Seattle, where he attended a fundraising brunch in the waterside home (on Lake Washington) of Ann and Bruce Blume. Along the way to the brunch, the president’s motorcade passed a woman and baby sitting in the grass who cheered Obama’s announcement the previous day that he supports gay marriage with a bright-yellow sign: “Thank you! Mr. President for standing up for my Mommys.”
About 70 supporters attended the brunch, with tickets costing $17,900.
The president attended a larger fundraiser at the Paramount Theater in downtown Seattle, where he addressed about 1,800 supporters. Tickets started at $1,000 for the event, and singer Dave Matthews performed.
Later Thursday, the president is scheduled to travel to Los Angeles for the dinner, which will take place at Clooney’s home in the Studio City area. There will be 150 supporters at this event, with tickets costing $40,000 per person.
Here is what the Obama campaign released about the winners of the free tickets and their guests:
Beth [Topinka] is a science teacher who grew up in Ohio and moved to New Jersey as an adult. She supports the president’s work on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives, as well as his support for Pell Grants and student loan reform. Her son served in the U.S. Navy and was able to attend Penn State on the new G.I. Bill. She invited her husband, Jerry, as her guest.
Jerry is a jazz guitarist who has played all over the world. His father served as a pilot in WWII, and he grew up in Panama. He’s been playing jazz guitar since he was 16, and currently performs and teaches in New Jersey and New York. He comes from a Republican family but voted for Obama in 2008.
Karen [Blutcher] is a married mother with a 5-year-old son with Down syndrome. She feels passionately about the president’s work to reform health care and applauds the first lady’s focus on childhood obesity. For 10 years, she’s worked for the public utility company, and before that she worked at a youth nonprofit. She appreciates the president’s efforts to help those who are working hard to support their families and is proud that her career has provided her the opportunity to help others. Her husband, Patrick, will be attending as Karen’s guest.
Patrick was a basketball player in high school and earned a scholarship to play in college, but opted to enlist in the military instead. He made a career out of avionics – electronic systems used on aircraft – both in the military, and then after he retired as a member of the National Guard.
The Obama campaign will raise at least $6 million from ticket sales to the the Clooney dinner, but that doesn’t include all the online donations for the dinner-with-Barack-and-George sweepstakes. Several news outlets have reported a take twice that large or more, but the campaign declined to confirm the total.
Proceeds from Thursday’s events will go to Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee authorized by Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.