The Republicans who have remained aligned with former President Donald Trump have become lightning rods in Washington – but are being rewarded with fundraising surges from Republican small-dollar donors and bookings on right-wing media outlets who could steer the party’s future.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene have both said in recent days they have seen a fundraising influx, highlighting the financial incentive to closely embracing Trump and underscoring the former president’s ongoing hold on the party even out of office.
The divisions between Republicans who want to move past the Trump era and its deadly ending and those who continue to fully embrace the former president – including his conspiracy-minded allies and the more damaging elements he unleashed – is poised to play out in the party’s primaries ahead of the 2021 elections and the 2022 midterms, and could also set the tone for the earliest stages of the 2024 primary as potential candidates begin to position themselves.
Hawley – who drew the ire of then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans when he objected to the electoral votes of several swing states on January 6, even after the riot by Trump supporters at the US Capitol – raised nearly $1 million in January, his pollster Wes Anderson said in a memo.
Anderson argued that the corporations, including Kansas City-based Hallmark and Cerner Corp. and St. Louis-based utility Ameren Corp. and financial firm Edward Jones, and major Republican donors who have since halted political donations entirely or said they won’t financially back the Republicans who voted to overturn the election results were made up for by the GOP’s small-dollar donors, who still overwhelmingly support Trump.
“The corporate PACs that have stopped donating account for a VERY small percentage of total fundraising that is more than offset by a huge surge in grassroots support,” Anderson said in the memo, which argued that Hawley’s support in his home state is “firm.”
Greene has also seen a fundraising boom, claiming in an email to supporters that she has raised $1.6 million as outrage over Greene, who has in the past embraced the dangerous and debunked QAnon conspiracy theory, grew more intense in Congress in the wake of a report from CNN’s KFile that she repeatedly indicated support for executing prominent Democratic politicians in 2018 and 2019 before being elected to Congress. The Georgia Republican has also faced backlash over recently resurfaced comments about the 2018 Parkland school shooting.
She all but embraced House Democrats’ move to strip her committee assignments, saying Wednesday that it will allow her more time to remake the Republican Party with more lawmakers in her mold.
“They don’t even realize they’re helping me. I’m pretty amazed at how dumb they are,” Greene told The Washington Examiner.
“I think it’s going to give me more time on my hands, I think, which is fantastic because then I can gain more support, I can help really get Republicans running in these primaries and elections in 2022,” she said.
Her comments came days after she said she had spoken on the phone with Trump, tweeting that she was “so grateful for (Trump’s) support and more importantly the people of this country are absolutely 100% loyal to him because he is 100% loyal to the people and America First.”
Trump is poised to play a major role in Republican politics – backing supporters and settling scores with intra-party rivals like Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who refused to back Trump’s lies about voter fraud – if he wants to do so. His Save America political action committee raised more than $30 million in the final weeks of 2020, its most recent filings show.
Before congressional primaries can take shape, most states will redraw their congressional district lines – potentially altering the trajectories of some key races.
Trump’s backers say the party would lose badly if it stripped away what made Trump appealing, especially in rural, White areas where he drove turnout to unprecedented levels.
“They don’t comprehend how Trump won in the first place. They don’t comprehend how Trump helped them gain seats in the House. The results down ballot were incredible,” said Tom Norton, a pro-Trump Michigan Republican who said he is challenging Rep. Peter Meijer, one of the GOP members who voted to impeach Trump, in next year’s primary.
Other Republicans said the base’s allegiance to Trump – out of office, deplatformed and potentially facing legal hurdles – and all that he touches could fade over time.
“We’re not even a month out from Trump’s presidency ending,” said a Republican operative who requested anonymity to avoid backlash from those with differing views on Trump’s role. “A lot can change in a matter of years. The party identity can look a lot different – for better or worse than right now.”