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Mike Johnson

NRCC chair dishes on Johnson

There are lots of changes in the House under new Speaker Mike Johnson.

Johnson isn’t stopping in the hallways and gabbing with reporters like former Speaker Kevin McCarthy did. He’s bringing his longtime chief of staff Hayden Haynes to work in the speaker’s office. And the new speaker is busy searching for a top foreign policy aide, a member services director and a policy director.

Yet maybe no organ of the House Republican leadership will be impacted as significantly as the NRCC.

The NRCC has raised $70 million this cycle. Out of that, a whopping $18.5 million has come from transfers from McCarthy’s political committees. In other words, more than one-quarter of all contributions to the party committee have been transferred from McCarthy’s political accounts to the NRCC. And that doesn’t factor in what the NRCC has raised from McCarthy-signed emails, mailers and other solicitations.

It’ll be up to NRCC Chair Richard Hudson to contend with this new reality and try to make up for the fact that McCarthy is gone. We spoke to Hudson about this:

About Wednesday night: Hudson met privately with Johnson Wednesday evening, just hours after the Louisiana Republican became speaker. Hudson was there to brief Johnson on what he’s expected to do for the NRCC.

Let’s be blunt: Many GOP donors have no idea who Johnson is. The Louisiana Republican has raised roughly $5.5 million during his entire congressional career; McCarthy raised more than three times that in the last quarter alone.

Johnson isn’t a fixture on the fundraising scene. Contemporary party leaders spend more than 100 days annually on the road raising hundreds of millions of dollars for their party committee and the party’s super PAC.

“I think a lot of the donors are very curious about who Mike Johnson is,” Hudson told us. “And I think we’ve got a great opportunity, because a lot of donors want to get in the room and see him and meet him.”

The NRCC isn’t having a great cycle. The committee has $36 million on hand, while the DCCC has $44 million. The DCCC has raised $93 million overall this cycle, $23 million more than the NRCC. Hudson says the numbers don’t tell the whole story because GOP lawmakers have donated $7 million directly to at-risk Republicans instead of giving to the party committee.

In addition to the NRCC, any Republican House speaker is expected to raise roughly $250 million for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a House GOP super PAC. CLF and its sister group, the American Action Network — both endorsed by the House Republican leadership — have raised $80 million this cycle already. Nearly all the donations made to CLF and AAN are, in some way, due to relationships McCarthy built over the last decade.

The climate: The political winds seem to be blowing against House Republicans. They have a slim five-seat majority. House Republicans have 18 GOP lawmakers sitting in districts that President Joe Biden won in 2020.

Hudson countered that, in his estimation, the “political environment is better than any I’ve ever seen.” He pointed to GOP polling advantages on crime, the economy and immigration.

Hudson’s pitch to donors who are considering shipping their dollars to Senate Republicans is that the “best investment the last two cycles has been House Republicans. When other people weren’t winning, we were winning.”

Longtime House Republican political hands, however, are deeply concerned about how they’ll keep up their fundraising pace. GOP leadership has already lost all of October due to the self-induced speaker chaos. And with a government shutdown threat in November and Johnson still putting together his political team, there are concerns that next month will be a bust as well.

To be sure, there’s always a panic whenever the Republican speaker changes. Lawmakers said no one would raise more money than John Boehner until Paul Ryan lapped him. They said Ryan’s shoes would be impossible to fill until McCarthy smashed all those records. So Johnson has an opportunity to outkick the coverage.

DCCC Chair Suzan DelBene is already slamming Johnson while noting that the House Republicans will miss McCarthy on the money front.

“They have a new face, but the extremism is the same. Maybe even more extreme given that we’re learning more and more about Speaker Johnson,” DelBene told us.

Scoop: The Small Business Administration has selected the Arkansas Capital Corporation to be designated as a Small Business Lending Company. It’s the first time in more than 40 years that the SBA has expanded the program, and the change will allow the company to do 7(a) lending in nearby states.

Congress has been trying to expand the lending that community development financial institutions can do for years now. We’re told that the ACC will focus its expansion into Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Missouri and Texas.

— Jake Sherman, John Bresnahan and Brendan Pedersen

Presented by AARP

AARP knows older voters. 

We’ve made it our business to know what matters to people 50 and over—like we know that protecting Social Security and supporting family caregivers are among their top priorities. Learn more from our polling in Pennsylvania.

Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.