RNC bids to re­tain ‘con­trol of House’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.


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