Hosting A Political Fundraiser? Here’s Some Advice

Part of the landscape of every presidential political season is high-profile fundraising. Often the hosts are familiar. Around here, they have names like Scarritt and Lykes. And then there are those who are curious about getting involved. A few pointers.

*Hosts lend their credibility as well as their digs. No scandals and a big veranda.

*Hosts cannot be network challenged.

*Campaigns spring for security. The Secret Service is not typically assigned until a candidate becomes a nominee.

*Campaigns meet with city officials and fire marshals to pre-empt issues.

*Campaigns will take care of valet parking.*Hosts must actually dial down. Hold the caviar and champagne. Go with moderately priced wine, not liquor. And get as many in-kind donations as possible, including catered fare, musicians and bartenders.

“The biggest challenge (for prospective hosts) is that these are people who are used to entertaining, and they want to treat royally any guest in their house,” says Tampa’s Frank Sanchez, a key Barack Obama advisor and Tampa Bay organizer. “But you have to tell them not to spend a lot of money. ‘Don’t go overboard.'”

A host can spend up to $2,000 – a donation in kind – points out Sanchez. “Over that, the campaign has to pick it up. We would rather tap the coffers for TV time.”

Norma Gene Lykes, whose Obama fundraiser brought in nearly $250,000 back in April, has no regrets – and some salient advice.

“If you really believe in somebody, do it – and do get some help,” advises Lykes. “Go to the grass roots office. It has a ripple effect.

“We were very pleased with how it turned out,” she recalls. “Very diverse; not just the traditional high rollers.”

Lykes also was pleased that the experience at her Bayshore Boulevard home didn’t leave her feeling as if she had been in royal company.

“There’s all this excitement and attention to detail, but at the end of the day it was just like having a wonderful house guest. Obama’s a very nice man. Incredibly likeable.”

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