Super PAC to boost House Republicans benefits from donors worried about Donald Trump
Congressional Leadership Fund has invested over $20 million
Republican donors worried Donald Trump’s campaign is putting the House of Representatives in play are writing checks to the super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, fueling a record-breaking haul this cycle.
“There is uncertainty at the top of the ticket and we have a significant group of donors who want to make sure that the House is a firewall,” Mike Shields, president of the Congressional Leadership Fund told CNN.
Almost doubling the amount they spent in the 2014 midterms, the group announced that so far it has invested $20.7 million in efforts to protect the majority during the 2016 cycle, including $10.7 million this month reserving for a second round of television and digital ad buys by the group in about a dozen House races. “We’re not done yet,” Shields said.
Multiple Republican sources told CNN the reason the outside group is pulling in more money this year is because donors are more comfortable with the wonky House speaker than the unpredictable billionaire nominee and want to ensure Ryan keeps his gavel. Some contributors who previously focused their attention on the presidential ticket are sitting out that contest and helping congressional candidates because of worries about the party’s chances this fall.
Since it was created in 2011 to support then-Speaker John Boehner, the House GOP super PAC has badly trailed its Democratic counterpart – the House Majority PAC – in fundraising. In the 2014 midterms House Majority PAC raised $38 million to CLF’s $11.6 million. Earlier this summer the House Majority PAC announced it was already near the $20 million mark so these latest numbers show that CLF is trying to stay competitive.
Shields said that the group has also benefitted from its close ties to Ryan. Those who have given to Ryan’s own political entities have also given money to the speaker’s super PAC because the group bolsters his ability to remain the party’s top agenda setter. The speaker’s work on his policy agenda, dubbed “a Better Way,” helps with attracting support from donors, who want some real answers to what the party will do and are frustrated with Trump’s lack of specifics.
The new numbers announced by the GOP super PAC will be welcome news to the National Republican Congressional Committee, which was outraised nearly 3-to-1 by the House Democrats’ political arm in July.
Many of the districts included in the latest ad buy are places where the Congressional Leadership Fund has already spent some resources. They include several open seats: in a district north of New York City where GOP Rep. Chris Gibson is retiring, in the suburban Philadelphia district where Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick is retiring, and likely the seat of retiring Nevada Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for Senate. The group is also investing in efforts to oust a couple of Democrats – California Rep. Ami Bera and Nebraska Rep. Brad Ashford.
They are also helping some Republican incumbents who Democrats are working hard to frame as Trump backers, like Texas Rep. William Hurd, New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, and Iowa Rep. David Young.
The group’s latest cash infusion will use micro-targeting to customize the messages in about a dozen House districts. Data gathered by two outside firms will allow the super PAC to craft ads that remind voters that whatever they think about the battle for president, there is a Republican candidate in their district who is speaking to the issues they care about.