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Paul Ryan's crucial cash surge

Evan Vucci / AP

First in Axios: Paul Ryan had another monster fundraising month for House Republicans, with his political entities sending $2.75 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee in April. That's more than half a million more than the Speaker sent the committee in April 2016 — an election year.

Why this matters: Republicans need a ton of cash and fast to deal with an increasingly unstable political landscape. It's only a few months past Election Day but the off-year special elections are tougher than many expected, with Democrats seeing each race as an opportunity to channel the entire progressive movement against Trump.

And House Republicans are already sweating 2018. Members are going home every weekend and facing angry progressive protesters. They're already visualizing the inevitably brutal Democratic attack ads on everything from budget cuts to the unpopular Obamacare replacement bill.

Context: Ryan's political operation tells us he's sent nearly $20 million to the NRCC since the start of 2017. Over the same period in 2016 Ryan sent about $13 million to the NRCC. Ryan has also directly helped raise cash for the special election candidates, signing fundraising emails for candidates in Kansas, Georgia and Montana.

QuoteThe special elections have gotten a lot of attention, but lost in that shuffle is the real energy it has created on the GOP side. Paul Ryan has seen a tremendous amount of support, raising record amounts to help win these races." – Kevin Seifert, Team Ryan Executive Director