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Ryan starts stockpiling for 2018

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Paul Ryan had a big fundraising month in January. He transferred $3.4 million to the House Republicans' campaign committee — the NRCC. That's impressive for an off year, and well exceeds the $2.5 million he transferred in January 2016 to kick off the election year.

The $3.4 million transfer does not include the nearly $200,000 raised from Paul Ryan-signed direct mail pieces for the NRCC, says a Ryan political operative.

Why this matters: While Ryan & co. hope for thumping victories in the 2018 House and Senate races, they count nothing as certain in the age of Trump. Ryan's formidable fundraising achieves two objectives: Gives Republicans added juice for increasingly expensive House races, and buys him loyalty from members who might be tempted to defy him.