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Rick Scott’s rocky start atop the GOP Senate campaign arm

But some Republicans fear that his vote, General dislike of the GOP among some donors right now and the party’s disappointing losses in Georgia will combine to hamper the NRSC early in the cycle, according to conversations with nearly a dozen party members, donors and officials. lobbyists, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to be frank.

“I think a lot of people think, ‘We just lost the majority. We have all invested a tremendous amount of personal and customer money in races, and we have lost, ”said a GOP donor. “A lot of those who have helped raise funds are thinking, ‘Give me a blast for a minute.’ And especially in the context of what happened last week on Capitol Hill.

“He doesn’t have a donor anger issue in all of this, and now he does. And these donors, even though they might not be upset or angry or whatever, they must be tired, ”said a GOP veteran. “I think a lot of them look at this and say, ‘The world is pretty uncertain right now. I just spent a ton of money. I’m going to wait 90 days, 180 days and see what happens here. “”

Scott has already started raising donor awareness this week with the Senate out of session. He is organizing a virtual meeting on Monday afternoon, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by POLITICO. The new NRSC PAC The director also sent donors an email invitation to a conference call with the senator on Monday evening, according to a person who received it.

The NRSC also sent a two-minute video showing Scott giving a Road to Majority speech, in which he touts his past election victories and his investment of his own funds in his political campaigns.

“I can say it with confidence: I will never ask a potential donor to contribute more than I have already given,” Scott said in the video. “I run a tight ship. I respect our donors. There are two things I don’t do: I don’t waste money and I don’t lose elections.

Scott also postponed the typical NRSC winter retreat at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, from February to October because of Covid-19. Chris Hartline, NRSC spokesperson and longtime Scott’s aide, said the decision to postpone retirement was made in early December.

Some Republicans weren’t necessarily concerned with donors only. Most Republicans who spoke to POLITICO argued that many companies and business leaders who have suspended donations could come back into the fold at some point in this cycle, and said there was more concern at the moment about the GOP of the House than of the Senate. They also pointed out that PAC donations represent a fairly small percentage of the overall money the NRSC will raise throughout the cycle, especially with the growing focus on small donors.

“PAC dollars are a piece, but it’s not the bread and butter of the place. Does it hurt him with the major donors? That’s where the money is, ”said one GOP lobbyist. “Unless that infected the next multi-millionaire boom that struck $ 30,000 checks, I’m not sure that’s a problem.”

Instead, some Republicans have privately worried that Scott’s potential presidential ambitions for 2024 could go awry with the effort to regain majority. It was this view that shaped part of the response to his vote against Pennsylvania certification, even though he did not speak out prior to the vote like other GOP Senators and did not oppose other states.

“Democrats are absolutely going to use this against Republicans. You can see they’re snoring just to attack on that front, ”said a GOP strategist who works on Senate races.

Other Republicans dismiss these concerns, pointing out that Scott already has an established donor base for future ambitions, and that a successful run in the NRSC would be the best precursor to a presidential candidacy anyway.

Scott’s strategists also dismissed the complaints and frustrations as anonymous reproaches that did not reflect the reality of the start of his term as President.

“The courageous anonymous sources who are pushing this false story don’t believe a single word they say, which is why they won’t put their names on this nonsense,” said Curt Anderson, one of Scott’s top advisers, in a press release. “They are completely dishonest. They know Rick Scott is the best fundraiser in the Republican Party, and he’s already gone quickly. Their goal is only to beat Rick Scott for his vote, which proves that they don’t know much about him. He won’t be intimidated by the anonymous people of Washington, DC.

Scott takes over from the NRSC two years after his first term in the Senate. His claim not to lose the election is true, although each of his victories in the country’s biggest swing state has been extremely narrow. In 2010, as a candidate for the first time, he sharp Attorney General Bill McCollum, a former congressman, in the GOP primary before winning the general election by just one percentage point. He followed it up with an even smaller margin of victory in 2014, then ousted Democratic Senator Bill Nelson by just over 10,000 votes in the closest – and most expensive – Senate race to the 2018 cycle.

Concern to this day about his tenure is by no means universal among party members or donors. Some strategists have dismissed it as a momentary problem that will fade away once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in, the Senate formally passes into Democratic control, and the cycle begins. Others have said time will tell if this points to deeper issues for Republicans, but that they doubt he faces any long-term issues, particularly if Scott is successful in recruiting challengers in states. keys, something he started before officially taking over the management of the committee. A Republican fundraiser, who also requested anonymity to discuss private conversations, said Scott’s statement explaining his the vote appeased donors.

“While some donors have asked about Senator Scott’s objection to the Pennsylvania votes, Senator Scott has explained his reasoning well in a written statement, in which he noted that electoral integrity issues in Pennsylvania have lasted since then. some time. .. ”said this fundraiser. “I think Senator Scott handled this well, and whatever problems people may have with his vote, it will go away once he explains his firmly held views.

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