Richard Dreyfuss for Jonathan Tasini

ALBANY—Jonathan Tasini, a labor activist who is mounting a left-flank challenge to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will host a fund-raiser tonight in Los Angeles featuring actor Richard Dreyfuss.

Tasini told me by phone from LA that he has known Dreyfuss–the star of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Mr. Holland's Opus–for about three years. Dreyfuss is an active Democratic donor, and played Dick Cheney in the 2008 film W. Tickets start at $100 a head.

I asked Tasini how things were going, in light of a new poll which shows Kirsten Gillibrand running behind potential Republican opponents.

"I believed from the very beginning that she will not be the senator from New York," Tasini said. "It will either be that I defeat he in the primary, or she'll lose in the general election. Democrats should be very concerned about that; I will be a much stronger candidate against any Republican."

"I intend to be the nominee. I'm very confident in that," he said, noting things are "very, very different" than his Quixotic 2006 primary against Hillary Clinton.

Also on the senate front, someone named Joseph Huff has been sending solicitations to a Democratic listserv seeking campaign interns and staffers. Huff describes himself as "a progressive Democratic candidate for the U.S Senate race in New York State."

Huff did not return an e-mail I sent the other day. It looks like he's from the Hudson Valley town of Beekman and ran, briefly, against Assemblyman Marc Molinaro.

Tasini said he's never heard of Huff.