Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Low-profile Trump backers struggle to raise cash

High-profile Trump backers in Congress who tried to block President Biden's election win have raked in cash this year. Many of their lesser-known rank-and-file colleagues have not.

Why it matters: New campaign finance data underscore a disparity among election objectors. Some have used the infamy to catapult themselves into MAGA stardom. Those who haven't — including some facing competitive 2022 reelection fights — are stuck with all the baggage and little financial benefit.

By the numbers: Axios analyzed data from midyear filings with the Federal Election Commission, and there have been some clear winners in the money race.

  • Fundraising for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) shot up by 3,552% compared to the first six months of the 2019 cycle. Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) was up by 832%.
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) pulled in 752% more in the first half of the year, even as corporate PAC donations dried up almost entirely.
  • Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who reportedly helped organize the "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded the Jan. 6 Capitol siege, raised more than four times as much during the first six months of 2021 — when he announced his 2022 Senate bid — than he did in 2019.

Hawley, Cruz, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) — part of House leadership — and MAGA stars Gaetz and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), collectively raised $45.5 million more during the first half of 2021 than they did two years ago.

On the other side of the equation are lesser-known lawmakers who haven't been able to capitalize on grassroots popularity to juice their 2021 fundraising.

  • Fundraising for Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) was down by more than 93%. Mississippi Rep. Michael Guest saw an 89% decline. The haul for Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.) dropped by 80%.
  • A pair of Republicans on House Democrats' 2022 target list saw some significant fundraising declines: Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) pulled in 45% less than he did in 2019. The total for Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.) was down 26%.
  • Other members whose districts were considered competitive last year also raised significantly less. The haul for Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) fell by 49%. North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop's declined 42%. Fellow North Carolinian Rep. Richard Hudson pulled in 18% less.

Between the lines: Of the 110 objectors elected before 2020, 65 saw their total fundraising decline in the first half of the year, most of them by a quarter or more.

  • Some 45 objectors brought in more than they did during the equivalent period last cycle.
  • Total fundraising by those 110 members was up by $41 million this year, but that rise was attributable entirely to huge spikes for a handful of prominent election objectors.

The bottom line: Media attention is literal currency in the modern GOP.

  • Those who can establish themselves as torch-bearers of the Trumpian right can translate any controversy into massive grassroots fundraising hauls. Those who can't must weather the fallout.
  • Doug Heye, a Harvard Institute of Politics fellow and a former senior House GOP leadership aide, called it the "immediate celebrification" of politics during an interview with Axios.

Be smart: Heye pointed to an infamous photo of Hawley raising his fist in solidarity with Jan. 6 demonstrators before they breached the Capitol.

  • "It's not an exaggeration to say that one picture is worth a million dollars," he said.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

Keep reading... Show less

Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

Keep reading... Show less

Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

Keep reading... Show less

"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

Keep reading... Show less

What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories