Ryan becoming GOP money man

Ryan becoming GOP money man
© Greg Nash

Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcMorris Rodgers seeks to tamp down unrest Conservative group unveils plan to slash spending by trillion Arizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus MORE had one personal demand before accepting the Speaker’s gavel: He wanted to spend weekends back home with his wife and three children rather than jetting around the country raising cash for the GOP.

But as he settles into his new post, the Wisconsin lawmaker and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee is coming to terms with the fact that he’s now his party’s top fundraising draw.

During his first few months as Speaker, Ryan has raked in millions of dollars during fundraising swings through Texas, Florida and Illinois — not to mention the dozens of events he’s done in D.C. when the House is in session.

Sources told The Hill that Ryan plans to team up with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyHouse unanimously passes Music Modernization Act Arizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus The Hill's Morning Report: Can Trump’s VA pick make it through the week? MORE (Calif.) in early March for a multi-stop swing through California — Ryan’s first trip to the Golden State as Speaker — to help fill the campaign coffers of House Republicans.

The schedule isn’t locked down yet, but both Ryan and McCarthy are expected to travel up and down the state together during the four-day trip. The leadership duo will make stops in the Los Angeles region, appearing alongside Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce of Fullerton and freshman Rep. Mimi Walters, the former mayor of wealthy Laguna Niguel.

The California swing will raise cash for Ryan-McCarthy Victory, a joint fundraising committee aimed at helping to reelect House Republicans. The committee is made up of Ryan and McCarthy’s reelection committees, their respective leadership PACs and the
National Republican Congressional Committee.

It all resembles something of a balancing act for the 46-year-old Speaker. He wants to spend time with his young family and stay connected with constituents in the Badger State while promoting a positive election-year agenda and ensuring House Republicans have the campaign resources to preserve the largest majority they’ve held in several generations.

On Monday, Ryan returned to his alma mater, Craig High School, in his hometown of Janesville, Wis., where he recounted stories from his teenage years. The next day, he appeared at a $1,000-per-person fundraiser in Longboat Key, Fla., at the home of GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“He’s going to try to do events as strategically as he can given the House floor schedule and his family schedule,” said a source familiar with Ryan’s fundraising efforts. “There is a high demand for the Speaker among Republican members, and we will work to support as many members as possible given the constraints of his schedule.”

Before he was pressured to resign last fall, Ryan’s predecessor, John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerArizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus We need more congressional oversight on matters of war A warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk MORE, had been a prolific fundraiser for the party. The Ohio Republican, who spent most weekends and recesses on the road attending big-dollar events, raked in more than $100 million during the 2014 cycle — one in which Republicans expanded their majority to 246 seats.

When Ryan was finally convinced to run for Speaker in October, he informed his colleagues he would not maintain BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerArizona GOP winner to join Freedom Caucus We need more congressional oversight on matters of war A warning to Ryan’s successor: The Speakership is no cakewalk MORE’s rigorous fundraising schedule. 

“I cannot and will not give up my family time,” he declared, citing a need to see his three children, ages 11, 12 and 14.

But in his short time so far as Speaker, Ryan has managed to squeeze in fundraising events whenever possible:

• He’s dropped by more than 30 fundraisers in D.C., including events last week for vulnerable freshman Reps. Dan Donovan (N.Y.) and Will Hurd (Texas), as well as Rep. David Joyce (Ohio), who is facing a tough primary.

• He has been giving a boost to organizations working to elect more women to public office. This month, Ryan gave the keynote address at a fundraiser for RightNOW Women PAC and attended a separate event with the Value In Electing Women (VIEW) PAC.

• And the new Speaker has demonstrated he’s more inclusive than his predecessor. Boehner frequently clashed with — and was ultimately forced out by — the far-right House Freedom Caucus. But last week, Ryan hosted fundraisers for two Freedom Caucus members: freshman Rep. Rod Blum (R-Iowa) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the one-time Boehner rival who serves as chairman of the group of conservative rabble-rousers.

The California trip will resemble a similar fundraising swing Ryan made through Texas last month. During that visit, the Speaker caught up with all seven GOP committee chairmen who call the Lone Star State home, tapping donors in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Midland and San Antonio, according to The Texas Tribune.

But the Golden State visit will differ in one aspect: It will feature both Ryan and McCarthy, the top two House GOP leaders. Typically, Republican leaders have employed a “divide and conquer” strategy when it comes to raising money for the party, fanning out across the country to cover more ground and reach more donors.

With two fundraising powerhouses teaming up in California, Ryan and McCarthy may be able to ask big-moneyed donors to contribute tens of thousands of dollars.

Last month in Chicago, Team Ryan, the Speaker’s political operation, hosted a cocktail party and dinner reception at the historical Tree Studio building, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. For $50,000, donors received a membership in Ryan’s Speaker’s Council, a photograph with the Speaker and dinner for two.

This article was updated at 4:20 p.m.