Oprah using star power to influence politics in Virginia

Posted at 4:49 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-18 16:57:23-04

(CNN) — You may have never heard of Lavern Chatman, a Democrat running for Congress in northern Virginia.

But now that her pal Oprah Winfrey is making a rare political appearance for the candidate, Chatman is making national headlines.

It helps to have famous friends.

Chatman announced Tuesday that Winfrey will appear at a fundraiser for Chatman on April 5 in Arlington, Virginia. The event will be focused on women’s issues, Chatman said.

“Oprah is a good friend and we both share a passion for empowering women and girls for leadership. I’m delighted she is coming to town to help with my congressional campaign,” she said in a statement on her website.

She’s one of nearly a dozen Democrats running in the solidly-Democratic 8th Congressional District, where longtime Rep. Jim Moran is retiring.

“To win a race like this, you need a lot of support and a strong grass roots effort. Our campaign is off to a tremendous start,” she said in the statement about Winfrey.

Chatman has run nonprofit community-based programs, according to her website, including a group that aims to boost voter participation and a mentoring organization called The Grandfathers Group.

While Winfrey started getting more involved in politics with then-Sen. Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, she still largely stays out of campaigns and elections. Other exceptions include former Newark mayor Cory Booker, who ran for the Senate and won in a special election last year with support from Winfrey. She also gave a check to a young city council candidate in Stockton, California in 2012.

She has donated to state Democratic parties, as well as the Democratic National Committee.