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The African American $ Primary

A Tuesday night fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) at the home of BET founder Bob Johnson was a Who's Who of prominent (and wealthy) African Americans, some of whom seem to be wavering between Clinton and her top rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

Billed as a "family reunion," the event drew dozens of former Clinton administration officials, political operatives and White House aides, including Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe; Maggie Williams, chief of staff to Sen. Clinton when she was first lady; Ann Walker Marchant, who worked in the White House communications office; and Bob Nash, Bill Clinton's White House personnel director.

Some former Clinton administration officials who did not attend Tuesday's fundraiser will instead be doling out money to Obama at a fundraising event for him next week.

In fact, one of the hosts of next week's Obama event is Eric Holder, who was President Clinton's deputy attorney general. Another is former FCC chairman Bill Kennard.

Yet another co-host of next week's Obama fundraiser, Washington real-estate developer Ernie Jarvis (son of former D.C. councilwoman Charlene Drew Jarvis), didn't mind double dipping.

Jarvis went to the Clinton "family reunion," where attendees were asked to donate $2,300 to be a "friend" of Hillary, or $500 to be a mere "supporter."

"People were teasing Jarvis about being there since he's on the host committee of the Obama fundraiser next week," said one attendee.

Indeed, Clinton and Obama are in a fiercely competitive race for money and support from prominent African Americans. While Johnson held a fundraiser for Clinton, the BET founder's ex-wife, Sheila Johnson, hosted a fundraising event recently for Obama. Meanwhile, the current president of BET, Debra Lee, is listed as a co-host of next week's Obama fundraiser, which is scheduled to be held in downtown Washington at the National Music Center.

Also attending the Clinton fundraiser this week were Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). Celebrities and noted luminaries included actress Victoria Rowell of "Young and the Restless" fame; singer Mary Wilson, formerly of the Supremes, who led the crowd in singing "America the Beautiful"; and Ernie Green, one of the "Little Rock Nine" and the first black graduate of Little Rock Central High School.

(Speaking of Obama, a Democratic political operative passed along a link to this must-see video. The man from Illinois sure has dedicated fans...)

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 13, 2007; 5:00 PM ET
 
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