House, Senate GOP compete for cash

House, Senate GOP compete for cash
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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.”

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“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 ThuneLeaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Mnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote 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 RyanHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism Anti-Defamation League calls on House leaders to censure Steve King over white supremacy comments 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 John TrumpVeterans groups demand end to shutdown: 'Get your act together' Brown launches tour in four early nominating states amid 2020 consideration Pence on border wall: Trump won't be ‘deterred’ by Dem ‘obstruction’ 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 HeitkampEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks 2020 Election: Democrats can’t afford to ignore their Israel problem Hirono will donate salary earned during government shutdown MORE (N.D.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Trump AG pick Barr grilled at hearing | Judge rules against census citizenship question | McConnell blocks second House bill to reopen government Ex-Sen. McCaskill joins NBC, MSNBC Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party MORE (Mo.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinLeaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks The Hill's Morning Report — No new negotiations as shutdown hits 25 days MORE (W.Va.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyEPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks Some Senate Dems see Ocasio-Cortez as weak spokeswoman for party Senate approves funding bill, preventing partial government shutdown 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 PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoGOP reasserts NATO support after report on Trump’s wavering Iran conducts failed satellite launch, despite US warning White House announces reduced delegation to travel to Davos amid shutdown 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 Scott GardnerOvernight Defense: Trump faces blowback over report he discussed leaving NATO | Pentagon extends mission on border | Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight Senate advances measure bucking Trump on Russia sanctions 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.