Fundraising numbers are sometimes informative.
For instance, in the first quarter of this year, Sen. Josh Hawley gathered $3 million in the first quarter of 2021. Sen. Ted Cruz raised $5.3 million. On the other side of the Hill, Minority Whip Steve Scalise collected $7 million in the first quarter, which is the largest quarter ever for any minority whip. Even Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene managed to raise $3.2 million in the first quarter, which has to be a record for a freshman who sits on no committees.
Rep. Liz Cheney raised a little less than half that, about $1.5 million.
These are exceptional and unexpected numbers, mostly because they come in the context of a first quarter in which corporate donations were suspended to Republicans ostensibly because of their willingness to vote against certifying the presidential election results. In the instances of Sens. Cruz and Hawley, the media and corporations tagged them early on as particularly difficult problem children.
None of that seems to have mattered. The Republicans are obviously learning to raise money from small, individual donations rather than relying on corporations. That’s a problem for companies and their PACs, not the Republicans.
If the Republicans become unreliable allies or even opponents with respect to business interests — which certainly seems to be the road on which they are traveling — it is not clear what happens next.
Take the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for example. Last cycle, in an attempt to be hip, relevant or whatever, they endorsed a batch of House Democratic candidates. Of those Democrats endorsed by the Chamber, 23 won their election.
You’d think they would have a sense of obligation or at least gratitude toward the Chamber. You’d be wrong.
All of them voted for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, and all of them will no doubt vote for an increase in the corporate tax rate. This despite the Chamber’s energetic opposition to both measures.
One other example bears notice. In the immediate wake of the Georgia contretemps over the unread voting integrity legislation, some in corporate America decided to attack Georgia. Major League Baseball (perhaps cravenly, perhaps trying to avoid being held hostage) moved the All-Star Game, although they inexplicably continued to allow the Braves to continue to host MLB games.
The kabuki of these things usually dictates that Republicans who may have aggrieved anyone immediately seek public absolution.
That did not happen. Rather, and somewhat unexpectedly, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia immediately launched an assertive defense of the legislation.
The next day, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas declined an invitation to throw out the first pitch at the Rangers game and made it clear that he would not participate in anything involving Major League Baseball.
In an unrelated, but temporally connected moment, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida pushed back strongly and effectively on a hit piece by “60 Minutes” that averred (incorrectly and knowingly so) that he had shown favoritism toward Publix with respect to the distribution of vaccines because they had contributed to his political efforts. Unfortunately for CBS and its former journalistic flagship “60 Minutes,” there were a handful of elected Democrats who called the segment an out and out lie.
What do these three events have in common? They are direct and notable breaks from the previous Republican practice of apologizing for doing or saying something heterodox. This break from the norm is no doubt partially a result of Former President Trump’s approach toward the game of politics which (to borrow from Friedrich der Grosse) can be summed up as “l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.”
They are also indicators of the coming new relationship between the Republican Party and corporate America.
When the long divorce between the Republicans and corporate America is finally finished, and the long march of the progressives through the Democratic Party is complete, it is unclear where or to whom corporations will go to advocate for their political preferences. Again, that’s a problem not for the Republicans.
It’s a problem for the corporations.
• Michael McKenna, a columnist for The Washington Times, is the president of MWR Strategies. He was most recently a deputy assistant to President Trump and deputy director of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the White House.