GOP urges Trump to pony up midterm cash for struggling Senate candidates


Republicans are openly pushing former President Donald Trump to dip into his vast campaign coffers to boost GOP Senate candidates at risk of losing in several battleground states.

The lackluster campaign hauls by several Trump-backed candidates in tight races compared with that of their Democratic opponents have fueled concerns that the GOP may fail to wrestle back control of the Senate unless the former president swoops in with some of the nearly $100 million he has sitting in his Save America Political Action Committee.

While Mr. Trump endorsed and promoted several Republican candidates to victory in the primaries, some GOP senators are grumbling that Mr. Trump has been unwilling to dole out money to struggling general election campaigns, despite raking in more donations in the wake of the FBI raiding his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“That’d be a huge help, particularly [for] the people he’s endorsed,” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and former chair of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm. “He’s got a big pot of money. Democrats are outspending virtually all of our candidates.”

“It is important that all of us are contributing. This should be no different,” said Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican and leadership member. “I think it would be wonderful if he could help out some of the candidates that he endorsed.”

Mr. Trump’s PAC has donated just $435,000 this election cycle to GOP candidates, according to campaign records. All of the less than 100 donations have been in the form of $5,000 checks, a drop in the bucket for someone like Republican Herschel Walker running against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock in Georgia.

Mr. Walker had less than $7 million cash on hand last week compared with the more than $22 million that Mr. Warnock had at the end of June.

In other closely watched Senate races like Wisconsin and Arizona, Mr. Trump has also given the Republican candidates just $5,000 each. Blake Masters in Arizona had $1.5 million in the bank in mid-July compared with Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s nearly $25 million.

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has outraised his Democratic opponent but still faces a tough re-election. He declined to weigh in on whether he’d like a piggy bank boost from Mr. Trump.

“I’m running my own race. I’ve got my hands full with that,” he said. “I don’t worry about what other people do. I can only worry about what I’m going to do.”

But while Mr. Trump has deep pockets, his refusal to divvy it out to fellow Republicans is par for the course for how he’s managed his campaign finances in past elections. And given the fraught relationship he has with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and other GOP senators on the Hill, lawmakers and campaign aides are not surprised by the lack of fundraising help.

“He should feel a strong obligation to help people get elected who he helped become candidates. That’s part of leading a movement,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota Republican. “I don’t know that his PAC has ever been overly generous. But it ought to be.”

A spokesperson for Mr. Trump did not immediately return a request for comment.

Tensions between Mr. McConnell and the party’s cash-strapped Senate fundraising arm, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), have also boiled over. Senate Republicans have questioned how NRSC Chair Rick Scott has handled its money, and worry it will be unable to properly fund its candidates going into the midterms.

“I think everybody ought to invest the money in whatever way they want,” said Mr. Scott, Florida Republican. “I don’t talk to [Mr. Trump] about how he spends his money.”


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