Recruitment: McCarthy’s Key to the Speaker’s Office
by Newt Gingrich
The liberal media likes to focus on how many House Republicans are retiring. Somehow this is supposed to make Republicans feel defeated and hopeless.
In this context, I was startled recently to hear Congresswoman Elise Stefanik say 2020 was going to be the year of the House Republican woman. She went on to assert that there was an historic record being set for Republican women filing to run for the House.
I checked in with Chairman Tom Emmer at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), and found that, if anything, Rep. Stefanik had understated the momentum of new recruits.
With House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and the leadership team going all out, the House Republicans are setting a remarkably encouraging series of records.
Consider these numbers: The total number of Republicans filed for House seats so far is 928, according to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) figures – or 188 more than the total at the same time in 2010 (740). The year 2010 matters because it was the last time Nancy Pelosi was kicked out of the majority and Speaker John Boehner led the House GOP to its biggest gain in modern times – with his “where are the jobs” slogan. In fact, in 2010 the House GOP gained 63 seats for a majority of 242 Republicans.
The House Republican recruiting surge is also tremendously widespread. So far, I am told that Republican candidates are running in 380 congressional districts (compared to 341 districts at this point in 2010).
Importantly, women and minority candidates have surged. This is an area which has historically been a Republican weakness. In Texas alone, there are at least 30 Republican women candidates. So far, 186 women are seeking to become House Republicans in total. The previous record was 133 women running for the House as Republicans. And filing is still open in a number of states, so the number will almost certainly increase.
I am told by the NRCC there are also 146 Republican candidates from minority communities. Furthermore, 188 veterans are running for the House as Republicans.
I will write more details about women and minority candidates in future columns. However, I think it is important to note a profound change underway in financing Republican campaigns.
The Democrats had an enormous advantage in the 2018 election, because they had built an online donation system called ActBlue. ActBlue had been founded in 2004 to enable small dollar donors to easily and efficiently help Democratic candidates all over the country.
When the online system was powered by the intensity of anti-Trump emotions, there was a flood of targetable money for Democratic candidates. Activists from all over the country could conveniently go online, identify the campaigns they wanted to help, and quickly send the money.
In the 2018 cycle, this system raised $1.8 billion over the two-year period. When this scale of small donor involvement was combined with massive donors like Michael Bloomberg (who spent $5 million on ads in the last two weeks in some elections) the Democrats’ money advantage was enormous. This helps explain the Republican House defeats.
The threat posed by the ActBlue system was reinforced in 2019, when it raised more than $1 billion for the Democrats.
Republican leaders realized they had to match or exceed the small dollar system the Democrats had invented. They developed a competitive model called WinRed.
The intensity of support for President Trump – combined with growing anger over the Democrats’ investigation and impeachment strategy – has made WinRed a success much faster than anyone expected.
In its first two quarters, WinRed raised $101 million. Its effectiveness is growing rapidly. It raised $31 million in its first quarter of existence and more than doubled that in the second quarter with $70 million (fourth quarter of 2019). In fact, WinRed raised more in its first 190 days than ActBlue raised in its first five years.
The impact of the Democrats’ overreach on impeachment has been amazing. WinRed pages that mentioned “impeach” or “impeachment” raised 300 percent more than any other page.
In fact, the growing impact of WinRed can be seen in Congresswoman Stefanik’s experience. After her remarkable defense of President Trump on the House Intelligence Committee, she mentioned people could donate at WinRed on Fox News. In two hours, $500,000 was donated from across the country.
The combination of great recruiting, the development of WinRed as a system for engaging grassroots Republicans in races across the country, the intensity of President Trump’s support, and the self-destruction of the Democrats are combining to create a new, dynamic, aggressive House Republican Party.
If retirements are the story of the past, then recruitment is the story of the future. This is the story on which Leader McCarthy and his team are focused.
I suspect it’s the story which will make him Speaker McCarthy in January 2021.