On Thursday, Marianne Williamson hosted a candidate summit for the 16 candidates she has endorsed for the 2021 and 2022 cycles. $5,355 was contributed, split more or less evenly, to the candidates in average contributions of $85.00, although it's worth noting that there were several contributions or $1 and one contribution of $1,000. You can watch the whole thing here (about an hour and a half) or if you just want to see a couple of short clips-- here's Dallas' Jessica Mason and Shervin Aazami from L.A.'s San Fernando Valley.
There have been headlines (like Cash floods into battle for control of Congress) in recent days-- as the first quarter fundraising reports deadline has come and gone-- of the massive amounts of money going to corporate-backed candidates who accept bribes and to candidates like Marjorie Taylor Greene (Q-GA), Gym Jordan (R-OH), Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Mad Cawthorn (Nazi-NC) who have been willing to make spectacles of themselves in catering exclusively to the racist Hate Talk/Fox News crowd on the far right fringes of society. Despite his sex and bribery scandals-- or because of them-- Gaetz has managed to raise $1.8 million. Yesterday, OpenSecrets.org reported that lawmakers kicked off the 2022 cycle by breaking fundraising records. Those big sums don't go the grassroots progressive challengers... to put it mildly.
In his first fundraising period as majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) raised an astonishing $8.3 million from January through March, easily the largest first-quarter total ever for a congressional candidate. That figure was buoyed by wealthy donors eager to show their support: only 2 percent of Schumer’s haul came from small donors giving $200 or less. As one of the most powerful figures in Washington who could face a primary challenge next year, Schumer is a prime target for big-dollar donations.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed the first-quarter fundraising record for House candidates, pulling in $4 million. In contrast to Schumer’s big-money haul, Pelosi raised roughly half her funds from small donors giving $200 or less.
Pelosi swiftly put that campaign cash to work. She transferred $895,000 to the DCCC and $85,000 to the DSCC. She sent another $500,000 to House Democrats flagship super PAC, House Majority PAC, and $125,000 to the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.
Among House incumbents, GOP minority whip Steve Scalise ($3,223,766), QAnon clown Marjorie Taylor Greene ($3,219,754 million), GOP minority leader Kevin McCarthy ($2,904,827) and AOC ($2,790,118 million) followed Pelosi. On top of that, McCarthy’s Take Back The House 2022 committee raised $21.6 million in the first quarter, about $5 million more than it did this time last year. Eleven individuals made $771,900 donations to the committee, which will distribute the money to House candidates and the NRCC.
You might find it interesting, that pro-impeachment Republicans raised more than pro-Trump challengers, according to a report by Karl Evers-Hillstrom and Krystal Hur, also for Open Secrets.
House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) raked in about $1.5 million from January through March, far more than she raised in previous years during the same period. Much of that total came from wealthy donors and corporate PACs, while roughly 11 percent came from small donors giving $200 or less.
The most prominent Republican to vote to impeach Trump, Cheney has faced backlash from her own caucus and drawn notable primary challengers. Wyoming state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, who announced his run on Jan. 20 after rebuking Cheney’s impeachment vote, raised around $335,000 in the first quarter. Most of his contributions came from small donors, who, in total, gave around $230,000.
Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)-- another top Trump target-- raised nearly $557,000 through the first three months of the year, leaving his campaign with $438,000 in the bank. A leadership PAC associated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) poured $10,000 into Gonzalez’ campaign, putting the GOP leader at odds with the president who has endorsed a primary challenger.
[Hereditary multimillionaire and all around ne'er-do-well] Max Miller, a former Trump administration official, is challenging Gonzalez with the former president’s blessing. Trump held a fundraiser for Miller last month, boosting his $508,000 first-quarter haul. Miller has around $439,000 in the bank, less than half of the incumbent’s total. Miller announced his bid after Gonzales voted for impeachment, stating that the congressman “betrayed” Northeastern Ohians.
...Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) had his best-ever fundraising period over the last three months, raising $1.1 million for his campaign and another $1.1 million for his leadership PAC, which has already bankrolled anti-Trump Republicans. He’s being challenged by Catalina Lauf, who unsuccessfully ran for another Illinois seat in the 2020 election. Lauf, an unapologetic Trump supporter [and clown], raised $163,000 after launching her campaign in late February. She reported having $100,000 on hand, compared to Kinzinger’s $2.5 million.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) saw her fundraising spike in the first quarter after her impeachment vote and her claim that Trump privately sided with Jan. 6 Capitol rioters. Herrera Beutler raised around $745,000, far more than any of her primary challengers could muster.
Three notable candidates are raising money to challenge Herrera Beutler. Former CIA employee Joe Kent poured $205,000 of his own money into his campaign, and collected around $64,000 in donations. Heidi St. John, a Christian author, raised around $131,000 for her primary bid. Former Trump administration employee Wadi Yakhour raised $9,500 and loaned his campaign roughly $25,000.
Pro-Trump challengers face some of the same hurdles primary challengers have for decades: inbumbents typically have a big fundraising advantage.
...Reps. Peter Meijer and Fred Upton were the only Michigan Republicans to vote to impeach Trump, and they also had the largest fundraising hauls in the state’s GOP delegation, easily outraising their primary opponents. Intra-party challengers to Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), DanNewhouse (R-WA) and Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC) haven’t yet raised significant sums. Rep John Katko (R-NY) hasn’t even drawn a primary opponent.
The Politico report referenced above, points out that House Dems "quickly assuaged any fears that they would struggle to keep up fundraising with their main antagonist, Donald Trump, out of office. Over two dozen of the 45 House Democrats that Republicans plan to target in 2022 raised over $500,000. Four of them, including California Reps. Katie Porter and Josh Harder raised over $1 million-- an impressive amount for the first quarter of an off-year. But this isn’t the 2020 cycle. Armed with WinRed and an energized small-dollar donor base, House Republicans have narrowed their financial gap. Of their roughly three dozen most vulnerable incumbents, 15 raised over $500,000, a much stronger showing than in the first months of the 2019. That’s not a good sign for House Democrats, who had a huge money edge last cycle and still lost over a dozen seats."
Vulnerable House Democrats kicked off the official start of the post-Trump era by continuing to raise large sums of money. Of the 45 incumbents on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s target list, 25 raised over $500,000.
And some 21 are starting the redistricting cycle with over $1 million in the bank. Porter ($11.5 million) and [Blue Dog scumbag] Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey ($9.2 million) have especially staggering high war chests.
But this cycle, Republicans aren’t too far behind. The quarterly totals of their endangered incumbents are almost as formidable. Of the 33 GOP members who are either targeted by the DCCC or deemed vulnerable by the NRCC, 14 of them raised over $500,000, including Reps. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Young Kim (R-CA), Michelle Steel (R-CA) and Maria Salazar (R-FL). Only a handful of vulnerable Republicans cleared that margin in the first three months of the 2019 cycle.
Jason Call, the progressive running against corporate whore Rick Larsen in northwest Washington state, noted this morning that "Fundraising is hands down the most grueling part of running a grassroots campaign. We brought in over $16,000 in our first filing quarter, and while that’s about a third of our entire 2020 total (so we’re grateful) it’s something we have to improve upon. Donations directly impact how we’re able to reach voters with printed materials and online outreach. Last year we really maximized the money we brought in-- but the truth is, if we’d had another $20k to spend on voter contact we very likely would have been on the general ballot against Rick Larsen, who raises a million dollars from his corporate owners in the military industrial complex and fossil fuel industry. He doesn’t even have to ask for it. Those donors are simply buying their way to access, so he’ll continue voting for bloated military spending and repealing banking regulations. Progressives need to understand the importance of being competitive with funding-- it does make a difference, both in what we are actually able to do and with the perception of viability. A lot of people giving recurring small donations is the key. If 1000 people say 'this effort is worth $20/month' that’s huge for a campaign that takes no corporate PAC money. We’ll likely never match corporate owned incumbents dollar for dollar. And the people we’re working to represent are not flush with cash. So if you’ve got some to spare and you believe in justice and the systemic change you know we’re not currently getting from the establishment, you’ve got to kick in to make it happen. Until we get Campaign Finance Reform and publicly funded elections, this is the political reality of fighting the oligarchy."
Philadelphia progressive Alexandra Hunt raised almost $20,000 in the first quarter in a tough race against a corrupt corporate Dem, who didn't raise much to defend his abysmal record, just $37,000. "Because Philly has its ward structure," she told me today, "I have to say this. Not a penny of this money is going into establishment pockets. It’s paying for staff and campaign materials and we’re going to find creative ways to give to our community (next fundraiser is through Booker’s in West Philly where people can get a meal with their ticket & were looking for a jazz band to come play at a nearby park.) Philadelphians deserve nice things and I’m not going to buy ward leaders to win this race. The pressure to do so will mount, I’m not going to budge."
Fairfax County progressive congressional candidate Ally Dalsimer told me she raised $16.4K in the first quarter and noted that, "while we are incredibly grateful to each and every person who is (and hopefully will be) supporting our campaign, I think it's ridiculous that qualified candidates have to spend so much time raising money from individuals who have families and bills and are not millionaires, while corporately-funded ones sell their allegiance to the highest bidder, taking funds from special interests and mega-donors. Worse, once elected, representatives are expected to spend 30-40 hrs/week fundraising for their parties rather than doing the People's work of governing. Small wonder so little progress gets made! All viable campaigns should be publicly funded in equal amounts-- that way, voters could decide who's the best choice based on policies and platforms, not who's got the biggest advertising budget."
Shervin Aazami is in a similar situation-- running a progressive campaign for a seat held by a corporate Democrat who is happy to vote in the best interests of his donors rather than his constituents. In the name of transparency, he sent me a link to his FEC report, which shows that he brought in just over $40,000 for the first quarter and the weeks he had his exploratory committee up. Brad Sherman, his opponent, raised over $166,000 in the same period, mostly from the pay-to-play crowd. "Every dollar counts," said Aazami. "Unlike the incumbent, our campaign proudly rejects all corporate and lobbyist monies and is 100% people-powered. We must enact public financing of campaigns and get corporate money out of politics entirely-- but until then, we need as many working people to support our campaign so we can continue building our movement for structural change!" That's why I embedded the 2022 Blue America congressional ActBlue thermometer above. It's a hotline and if you click on it, it will take you to a page where you can contribute to the Blue America-endorsed House candidates.