Mar 7, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Hawley becomes GOP cash cow despite Jan. 6 blowback

Photo illustration of Josh Hawley wearing a tie with Benjamin Franklin on it
Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley's effort to block certification of the 2020 election has been a fundraising boon — not just for him but his party, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Corporate donors and establishment Republicans recoiled at the Jan. 6 siege on the Capitol that followed efforts by Hawley (R-Mo.) and others to block President Biden's Electoral College victory. But fundraising numbers show the GOP grassroots is still firmly in Hawley's camp.

What's new: Digital fundraising appeals sent by the National Republican Senatorial Committee under Hawley's name raised more money in February than those of any other senator except NRSC Chairman Rick Scott.

  • The NRSC has a Hawley-branded page on the fundraising platform WinRed, asking donors to "help end cancel culture and take back the Senate majority!" It also sent at least two fundraising emails last month under Hawley's name.
  • Scott (R-Fla.) was another of the eight senators to vote against certification, but fears it also might dent NRSC fundraising do not appear to be bearing out.

Hawley's personal fundraising also has spiked, according to data provided by a source close to his campaign.

  • From Jan. 1 through March 5, Hawley's campaign brought in more than $1.5 million from nearly 28,000 donors, the vast majority of whom had never given to him before.
  • That's more than 12 times what Hawley raised during the first quarter of 2020, and more than 34 times what he brought in during the first quarter of 2019 — and there's still more than three weeks left in the current quarter.
  • Hawley also has received some fundraising help from the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has been bundling contributions for him.

Independent political spenders have also gotten in on the action.

  • A PAC called Protect American Values has sent a number of fundraising emails since February using Hawley's name to try to raise money for itself.
  • "Josh is not just a U.S. senator, but now he’s also the symbol of the patriotic, liberty-loving American who refuses to give up and is frustrated by the leftist takeover of America," one of the group's emails declared.

Between the lines: In the weeks after the Capitol attack, it looked like Republicans might try to steer the party away from the Trump-aligned bloc that tried to block election certification.

  • Part of that was fueled by a swift and widespread backlash from the party's corporate donors, many of which swore off contributions to members who had voted against certifying electoral college results.
  • These numbers indicate the party's grassroots backfilled any losses by stepping up on behalf of the lawmakers who may have been targeted.
  • Now even some major corporate donors, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say they won't cut off members of Congress just because they voted against certification.

The bottom line: Campaign donations are the lifeblood of politicians, and right now there's little such incentive for Republicans to tack toward the center.

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