Bon Jovi Risks Rep to Help Hillary

There must be something in the Garden State's murky water that produces music superstars who sometimes seem as likely to show up on the campaign trail as the concert stage.

Frank Sinatra started it all in 1960 by publicly supporting John Kennedy (and reputedly helping him privately with certain, um, connections in Chicago). Bruce Springsteen strapped on his guitar for John Kerry in 2004, and more recently -- and successfully -- for Barack Obama.

Now Jon Bon Jovi is set to play for Hillary Clinton this month as she strives to pay down millions in presidential campaign debt to clear the way for her confirmation as Obama's secretary of state.

It's no ordinary gig: Bon Jovi runs the risk of losing some of his hard-earned blue-collar cred by helping bring the wealthy pol into the black at a time when corporations are begging taxpayers for billions and ordinary folks are pinching pennies.

Or to put it in bluntly Bon Jovian terms, what would struggling lovers Tommy and Gina of "Livin' on a Prayer" say?

To his credit, 46-year-old Bon Jovi is no Jon-come-lately to political and social activism. He performed for former Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton when they were awarded the Liberty Medal in 2006, and he's on speaking terms with pols ranging from former Republican New Jersey Governors Christie Whitman and Thomas Kean, to Dems like Obama and former Vice President Al Gore.

His outspokenness in the fights against poverty and global warming, and his work with Habitat for Humanity have spurred talk he might one day run for office (he denies any interest), or at least threaten to saddle him with the nickname "Bono" Jovi.

He's been friendly with Hillary Clinton since she was first lady (he reportedly calls her "Mrs. C"), and has donated to her campaign coffers.

So maybe there's another way to look at the motivation behind Bon Jovi's scheduled Jan. 15 Clinton performance, and it's a concept familiar to the Tommy's and Gina's out there: Loyalty. It's a trait, not incidentally, Bon Jovi shares with fellow Jersey boys Sinatra and Springsteen.

If nothing else, the performance will be an opportunity for fans to see Bon Jovi up close -- if they're willing to shell out anywhere from $75 to $1,500. There's not a bad seat in Manhattan's relatively cozy Town Hall, so the $75 ticket could very well put fans in good company with the folks Bon Jovi's been singing to -- and about -- for more than two decades.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.

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