RNC bids to retain ‘control of House’
WASHINGTON, April 16, (Agencies): The Republican National Committee has committed $250 million to a midterm election strategy that has one goal above all else: Preserve the party’s House majority for the rest of President Donald
Trump’s first term. Facing the prospect of a blue wave this fall, the White House’s political arm is devoting unprecedented resources to building an army of paid staff and trained volunteers across more than two dozen states. The RNC is taking the fight to Senate Democrats in Republican-leaning states, but much of the national GOP’s resources are focused on protecting Republican-held House seats in states including Florida, California and New York.
“Our No. 1 priority is keeping the House. We have to win the House,” RNC political director Juston Johnson said. “That is the approach we took to put the budget together.”
RNC officials shared details of their midterm spending plan with The Associated Press just as several hundred volunteers and staff held a day of action on Saturday in competitive regions across the country. The weekend show of force, which comes as Democrats have shown a significant enthusiasm advantage in the age of President Donald Trump, was designed to train 1,600 new volunteers in more than 200 events nationwide.
There were more than three dozen events in Florida alone, a state that features competitive races for the Senate, the governorship and a half dozen House races.
Seven months before Election Day, there are already 300 state-based staff on the RNC’s payroll. The committee expects to have 900 total paid staff around the country — excluding its Washington headquarters — before November’s election, Johnson said. The number of trained volunteers, he said, has already surpassed 10,000. The strategy is expensive. And it carries risk. The RNC’s focus on a sophisticated field operation designed to identify and turn out key voters, an approach favored by former chairman Reince Priebus and expanded by Trump’s hand-picked chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, leaves the RNC with no additional resources to run advertising on television or the internet. It also puts tremendous pressure on the president and senior party leaders to raise money to fund the massive operation.
And few believe that even the best field operation could wholly neutralize the surge of Democratic enthusiasm on display in recent special elections, which has some Republican strategists fearing that the House majority may be lost already.
Democrats need to pick up at least 24 seats to take control of the House for the last two years of Trump’s first term. They need just two seats to claim the Senate majority, though the map makes a Democratic Senate takeover much less likely.
An optimistic McDaniel said strong Republican fundraising has allowed the aggressive strategy. During the first year of Trump’s presidency, the GOP set a fundraising record by raising more than $132 million.
“Our sweeping infrastructure, combined with on-the-ground enthusiasm for President Trump and Republican policies, puts us in prime position to defend our majorities in 2018,” McDaniel said.
The $250 million price tag for what she described as a “permanent data-driven field program” is the committee’s largest ground-game investment in any election season. The resources are focused in some unfamiliar territory, including several House districts in Southern California, which Johnson described as “a huge focus.”
At a minimum, each targeted state features an RNC state director, a data director and at least a few staff devoted to each competitive House district. They are aggressively recruiting and training local volunteers to expand the GOP’s presence in key communities.
WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign raised $10 million in the first quarter of the year, leaving his re-election operation with $28 million in cash, his campaign disclosed on Sunday. Trump spent $3.9 million in the first quarter. Trump has opted — unlike presidents before him — to begin actively fundraising in the early part of his first term. He could use some of the money which he has already raised to help Republicans in the upcoming midterm election in November.
In addition to raising money for his own campaign, Trump has also collected funds for joint efforts with the Republican National Committee, which uses that money to help congressional candidates.
His re-election campaign finished 2017 with $22 million in cash.
During the first quarter of the year, Trump spent about $834,000 on legal expenses — down from the $1.1 million he spent in each of the previous two quarters, according to disclosures filed with Federal Election Commission.
Trump’s campaign has used millions of his campaign cash in the past year to pay legal fees — including some fees associated with responding to the Russia investigation being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. His campaign spent over $3 million in 2017 in legal fees.
In addition to legal fees, he has also used that money to keep a small campaign staff, to fund campaign rallies and to pay for digital advertising focused on his supporters.
Trump filed for re-election the day he took office, an unusual move for an incumbent president. Traditionally, incumbent presidents have waited until after their second year in office to begin their re-election campaign. Trump will stand for reelection in November 2020.