House Speaker Paul Ryan pointed to a “green wave” of money that Democrats have infused into the midterm elections, telling a crowd of Republican supporters on Wednesday that “this is our challenge.”
“You’re seeing the money spigot being opened by the left to try and drown us out,” said the Wisconsin Republican who’s leaving Congress at the end of his term in January.
While campaigning for GOP candidate Jay Webber in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional district, Ryan pointed to Michael Bloomberg’s recent pledge to contribute $20 million in the final stretch to Election Day to help Democrats. That’s in addition to the $80 million he pledged earlier this year.
“We really don’t see a blue wave,” he said. “We see a green wave of money and this is our challenge … we see liberals on the coasts trying to buy a new Congress, Michael Bloomberg wrote a $100 million check, himself.”
His comments come as the speaker embarks on a multi-week tour across the country, campaigning for vulnerable incumbents and new candidates in competitive races – his final campaign swing before he retires. He’s expected to hit the trail for 25 Republicans by Election Day.
“No pressure, but we, the rest of the country, we’re all counting on you, North Jersey, to deliver this man to the United States Congress,” Ryan also said, standing next to Webber.
Ryan has long proved to be a fundraising powerhouse, himself. According to an aide for Ryan, the speaker has raised more than $70 million this cycle, either directly for candidates or for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC closely aligned to Ryan, has raised more than $126 million in the same time. All told, he will have traveled to more than 110 cities, more than 40 states, and campaigned for more than 55 incumbents and candidates, according to the aide.
In addition to the event with Webber on Wednesday, Ryan is also headlining fundraisers for US Reps. Tom MacArthur and Leonard Lance, two Republicans battling to keep their seats in New Jersey.
Webber, a New Jersey assemblyman, is facing off against Democrat Mikie Sherrill for an open seat following the retirement of longtime Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who chaired the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
While the district has more registered Republican voters than Democrats, President Donald Trump only won the district by one point in 2016. Republicans are battling to keep the seat. Trump endorsed Webber on Twitter last month and Vice President Mike Pence held a fundraiser for him earlier this week.
Sherrill, a former naval helicopter and federal prosecutor, was an early recruit by Democrats and has raised more than $7 million. Webber, who joined the race close to a year after Sherrill, has raised a little more than $1 million this cycle and predicts $2 million by Election Day.
“That’s not bad and that’s enough,” he told reporters after the event Wednesday. “I don’t need to match Mikie Sherrill dollar for dollar. I need to get enough. We’re going to raise enough.”
While Webber didn’t mention Trump by name in his speech, he touted the President’s policies. Ryan also touted the economy, rebuilding of the military and overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Describing the left as “unhinged,” Ryan said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and “her clones” will undo the tax cuts passed by Congress last year. He also knocked Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, who’s fighting to keep his seat in New Jersey. “You’re not seriously going to re-elect Bob Menendez are you?”
Responding to Ryan’s visit to the district, Sherrill released a statement calling Ryan the “architect of the tax hike bill,” which eliminated the state and local tax deduction, a prized deduction in high-tax states like New Jersey and New York.
“Their record as career politicians pursuing an ideological agenda may bond Ryan and Webber, but they break with the majority of New Jerseyans who want their full state and local tax deduction back.”