Photograph: Michael Holahan / AP
Some four dozen Republican donors were on a February 5 conference call with Liz Cheney, the MP and the only Republican House leader to vote for the impeachment of Donald Trump for his role in the popular attack on Capitol Hill on January 6.
Many donors participating in Cheney’s appeal are expected to donate the maximum amount of $ 5,800 to his 2022 re-election campaign before the end of the first quarter of this year, to avoid a main challenge that devotees of Both Trump and Congressman Matt Gaetz are encouraging, said Michael Epstein, one of Maryland’s top Republican donors.
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“We want to show it a really big cycle to scare off the competition,” Epstein said in an interview. “We want people who make judgments based on what is right.”
The number of donors on the call partly reflects a growing movement among Republican fundraisers to try to combat threats from the majority supporting Trump, which has maintained its grip on the Republican base, despite Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.
While still in the minority in Republican political circles, critics of Trump – and the wealthy donors who support them – are quickly scrambling on multiple fronts to try to strip party control from those who staunchly adhere to the Trump line.
Nikki Haley, the former Trump ambassador to the UN who is planning a presidential election in 2024, is organizing Zoom fundraisers on March 3-4 for her Pac, and is expected to attract dozens of major Republican donors drawn to her criticism Trump in the Senate. trial, when Haley told Politico she was “disgusted” and “angry” at Trump’s role in the January 6 riot.
Haley Pac’s fundraiser, dubbed Stand for America, is expected to support Cheney and others who voted to impeach Trump – as well as other candidates who voted against impeachment – say fundraisers with ties to him.
A more aggressive effort to try to grapple with Trump and his allies, and move the Republican Party away from their influence, has also been mounted by a new Pac called Country First, which was unveiled in late January by the congressman from the Illinois Adam Kinzinger, one of only 10 members of the Republican House who voted to impeach Trump
Kinzinger, who has been censored by his local party for supporting Trump’s impeachment, has been outspoken after the Senate failed to convict Trump.
Trump “encouraged an angry mob of his supporters to storm the United States Capitol to stop counting the electoral votes,” Kinzinger said. But he stressed that “we have a lot of work to do to restore the Republican Party” and reverse “personality politics”.
However, campaign finance experts warn the fight to reduce Trump’s influence on fundraising will be tough in a party he maintains a strong grip on, and the ex-president has signaled he will be involved. in the races of 2022 in order to oust its detractors. .
In a statement berating Mitch McConnell – the Republican Minority Leader in the Senate who voted for Trump’s acquittal but then criticized his actions – Trump ominously warned: “ I will support the main rivals who marry Making America Great Again and our America policy first. We want bright, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership. “
Before stepping down, Trump raised tens of millions of dollars for a new Pac, called Save America, which is expected to spend generously in 2022 to keep his political ambitions alive and demand retaliation against those who voted to impeach and convict. . Save America had more than $ 30 million in its coffers at the start of 2021, and Trump has reaped tens of millions more through three other committees he controls, according to public documents.
“It will be difficult for Kinzinger and others who voted to impeach or condemn Trump to stay the course financially,” said Sheila Krumholz, who heads the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. “During the last deposits, Trump had $ 105 million in the bank. He also has the largest list of staunch supporters in politics, he can tap into donations whenever he needs money.
Republican analysts and donors expect Trump’s ego and money to spark big battles against Cheney, as well as other Frankish members who voted to impeach Trump, such as Kinzinger.
Republican agents say another possible Trump target could be Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who was one of only seven Republican senators to vote to condemn Trump and is the only one to be re-elected in 2022.
Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska who gave Trump a key endorsement in 2016, is seen as a possible main challenger against Murkowski.
But some Republican sources say McConnell could help defeat a main challenge to Murkowski: McConnell has indicated he will actively support the best candidates for the party’s future and, after voting to acquit Trump, he said without equivocation that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the riot on Capitol Hill.
Some Republican agents are trying to persuade the party that Trump, despite his still high approval ratings of nearly 80% among Republican voters, is a serious responsibility for the future of the party among the electorate at large.
“The GOP needs to focus on nominating candidates who can win in Fall 22 and stop Trump’s litmus test,” veteran Scott Reed said.
Other members note that the National Republican Congressional Committee, the House’s Republican campaign arm, appears on track to support Cheney and others who voted to impeach Trump.
“The NRCC is going to try to help Cheney and I suspect they will be for others who voted for impeachment,” said Charlie Black, a longtime GOP agent.
Yet Krumholz warns that in the short term, pledging loyalty to Trump is likely to be a magnet for Republican fundraising candidates. “The way to raise campaign money as a GOP candidate, especially from small donors, is to present yourself as a Trump loyalist,” Krumholz said.