Even Oprah’s star power couldn’t save one Virginia Congressional candidate from a nearly-dead last finish in her race on Tuesday.
Lavern Chatman, a Democrat and former president of the Northern Virginia Urban League, received a huge endorsement from Oprah Winfrey but she still placed second to last in the Democratic primary for Virginia’s 8th Congressional district, which includes the Washington, DC suburbs. Her performance proves yet again that celebrity is not always the key to success when it comes to political elections.
Don Beyer, the former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and ambassador to Switzerland in the Obama Administration, defeated Chatman and five other opponents, in the race to replace the retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Moran, according to the Associated Press. The district is heavily Democratic and Beyer is favored to win the general election.
It was Chatman’s first-ever campaign for political office, and she looked like she was positioned to do well. She was second only to Beyer in fundraising dollars — possibly thanks to Oprah. In April, Oprah spoke at a fundraiser for Chatman in Arlington, Va. where donors who wanted a photo with the talk show queen paid a whopping $2,600 – money that got banked in Chatman’s campaign war chest.
Chatman and Winfrey became pals in 2007 when Oprah’s partner, Steadman Graham, and Chatman’s husband, Robert Brown, introduced the two. They’ve been friends ever since.
When asked about their relationship, Chatman’s communications director Ajashu Thomas said, “They both share the same goal of empowering young women and girls.” Chatman is also a host mother to a graduate of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, Mpumi Nobiva, while she studies in America.
But even Oprah’s backing couldn’t make up for the fact that Chatman didn’t have the political clout that many of the other candidates looking to defeat Beyer had. Patrick Hope who placed second serves in Virginia’s House of Delegates, Adam Ebbin who placed third serves in the Virginia State Senate, and Bill Euille who placed fourth serves as the Mayor of Alexandria.
This was not Oprah’s first foray into politics. She famously backed then-Senator Barack Obama in May 2007, making her first political endorsement ever. She also threw a fundraiser for Cory Booker in July of 2013 during his successful New Jersey Senate bid.
But it seems the stars simply aren’t shining very bright in 2014. Recently, California Congressional candidate Marianne Williamson, a Democrat, finished a distant 4th place in her primary bid for California’s 33rd Congressional District despite the backing of the likes of Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry both and Alanis Morisette.