The Republican National Committee’s (RNC) midterm plan has sparked grumbles in the Senate over whether it puts too much of an emphasis on saving the House majority.
The fears were aggravated by a story from The Associated Press highlighting the RNC’s plan to raise and spend $250 million on a GOP midterm protection plan, and quoting RNC Political Director Juston Johnson as saying: “Our No. 1 priority is keeping the House. We have to win the House.”
“I hope the Senate’s factored into that because it’s pretty important we maintain the majority in the Senate, especially when it comes to the president’s picks for his executive agencies and the courts,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSchumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Congress facing shutdown, debt crisis with no plan B GOP warns McConnell won't blink on debt cliff MORE (S.D.) said this week when asked about the RNC’s plans.
“I know they’re really worried about the House and they’re going to have to spend heavily there, but there are a lot of [Senate] seats that are going to be competitive and expensive,” he added.
Some argue that the Senate is better positioned to withstand a possible Democratic wave than the House.
Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE’s (R-Wis.) decision to announce his retirement last week added to the sense of gloom in GOP circles that the House majority may already have been lost.
In the Senate, Republicans enjoy a favorable playing field that has the GOP defending just eight seats and Democrats protecting more than two dozen — including 10 in states that President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE won by double-digits.
“Ultimately we have a firewall in the Senate,” said a Republican campaign official. “I didn’t see the AP article reflect that.
“With the seats that are up in the Senate this cycle, we have a very good chance of retaining the majority and adding to it. The same cannot be said about the House.”
The campaign official said Senate Republican strategists had thought there was an understanding among the White House, the Senate and the House that there would a roughly equitable distribution of resources between Senate and House races.
The source said there have been regular meetings and “a pretty open dialogue” among senior White House, Senate and House staff over how to divide resources.
“Things have been pretty constructive between the House, Senate and White House, and I didn’t see it reflected in the AP piece,” the source added.
An RNC spokesman said GOP senators shouldn’t worry and that it will provide resources to protect the party’s majorities in both chambers.
“The party in power faces historic headwinds in midterm election years, which is why we’ve raised an unprecedented amount of resources to invest in both House and Senate races across the country,” said RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens. “We remain 100 percent committed to defending our majorities in Congress.”
The RNC has staff in more than two dozen states at the moment, including every state with a targeted Senate race, which it claims is its largest field program ever. It has also had an uninterrupted field presence in several Senate battleground states since the 2016 election.
The RNC has hardly ignored Senate races, and regularly bashes red-state Democrats such as Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampWashington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight Business groups aim to divide Democrats on .5T spending bill MORE (N.D.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sunday shows preview: States deal with fallout of Ida; Texas abortion law takes effect Giuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri MORE (Mo.), Joe ManchinJoe ManchinPelosi sets Thursday vote on bipartisan infrastructure bill Budget impasses mark a critical turning point in Biden's presidency Democrats urge Biden to go all in with agenda in limbo MORE (W.Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRepublicans may regret restricting reproductive rights Sanders traveling to Iowa, Indiana to pitch Biden's spending package Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE (Ind.) for obstruction and siding with liberals.
It sent out a research document last week noting that those vulnerable incumbents voted to confirm Mike PompeoMike PompeoRepublican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability MORE as CIA director and urged them to vote for his nomination to head the State Department.
National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chairman Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (Colo.) told The Hill that he doesn't think the RNC is going to take the Senate GOP majority for granted.
“The House and the Senate are very important. I don't think anything is going to be taken for granted, and nobody is going to give up on one over the other,” he said.
Gardner said he hadn't yet had a chance to discuss with the RNC the claim that protecting the House is its No. 1 priority.
If fights between Republicans in the House and Senate over limited resources heat up further, it could put Trump right in the middle.
The RNC is seen as an extension of the White House, and Trump will be under pressure to steer funds toward vulnerable incumbents in both chambers.
The loss of either chamber to Democrats would give the opposing party subpoena powers and the ability to make Trump’s life difficult. The loss of both would be an absolute disaster.
A Republican strategist speculated that Trump might be putting pressure on the RNC to put more focus on House races because Republicans generally feel more confident about their ability to keep the Senate.
“The RNC is always the political arm of the White House,” said the strategist. “They may be telling the RNC we have to hold the House because they don’t want to face the potential of impeachment.”
Republicans in both chambers are watching the RNC intensely because the NRSC and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) are lagging behind their Democratic counterparts in fundraising.
The NRSC has raised $51.5 million, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee collected $64.9 million through the end of February, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The NRCC has raised $105.6 million through the end of February — including transfers from affiliated committees — while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has raised $125.4 million.
The RNC, however, has a big edge over its rival, the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The RNC reported $157.7 million in receipts and $42.4 million in cash on hand at the end of February, without any debt. The DNC, by comparison, reported only $10 million in cash on hand and $6.3 million in debt. It has raised $80.7 million so far this cycle.