NY GOP Mull House Speaker's Influence on 2024 Elections
NY GOP Mull House Speaker's Influence on 2024 Elections

By Juliette Fairly

When former New York Republican Congressman John Faso was competing for office in 2018, former Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was Speaker of the House at the time, helped him campaign.

“He was a guest at a fundraiser that drew a bigger crowd than I would have otherwise,” Mr. Faso told The Epoch Times. “It’s not like you’re doing public events with the House Speaker. You’re mostly focused on fundraising. That’s where the speaker can be most effective.”

Although the new House Speaker, Mike Johnson (R-La.), may not have the influence or cash-on-hand that his predecessors, Mr. Ryan or Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had, conservative New York Congressional candidates aren’t especially worried about it.

“We feel good about the structural composition of the political environment moving into 2024,” Kellen Curry, a 3rd Congressional District candidate, told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Johnson’s launch of a fundraising vehicle called ‘Grow the Majority’ containing 70 committees aimed at supporting House Republicans, is expected to help candidates like Mr. Curry.

“On the money front, a lot of people have stepped up to fill McCarthy’s place, including Speaker Johnson creating the apparatus and the mechanism to raise money,” said Mr. Curry, a U.S. Air Force Reserve Officer.

Mr. Curry isn’t the only 3rd Congressional District candidate who believes in Speaker Johnson’s potential to influence.

Air Force veteran and attorney Greg Hach is also campaigning on Long Island to replace Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) in the 3rd Congressional District.

“Speaker Johnson has been a constructive force for House Republicans,” Mr. Hach told The Epoch Times. “I have no doubt that will translate into abundant financial support for critical races like ours next year.”

On Nov. 16, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee issued its findings that there is allegedly substantial evidence Mr. Santos violated federal law and participated in financial illegal activity.

In response, Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Suffolk County) is calling for the invalidation of Mr. Santos’ election using House Constitutional expulsion powers.

“George Santos is a lying fraudster who stole an election to get to Congress,” Mr. LaLota said in a statement online. “My fellow New Yorkers deserve a real representative.”

If Mr. Santos is expelled, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is required to announce a special election within 10 days.

“Republicans will want to hold this seat,” Mr. Curry said of the 3rd Congressional District. “They will want to make sure this appetizer before the main event, which is the presidential election in 2024, is set up constructively for the party. So, I have no concerns about funding our campaign once we get to that point.”

The 3rd Congressional District is in a swing district along with the 1st, the 4th, the 11th, the 17th, the 18th, the 19th and 22nd.

Who wins the battleground Congressional Districts in New York is expected to determine whether the GOP will control the House for another term.

“This is why the issue is so important because New York has more swing seats than any other state in the country,” Mr. Faso said.When a member of Congress is elected Speaker of the House, it’s partly because of their fundraising and political influence. For example, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who raised $25 million last year, according to Open Secrets data, served as House Speaker from 2007 to 2011 and again from 2019 to 2023.

“Pelosi was there so long because she gave candidates all over the country lots of money and had pull with the fundraising crew,” Mike Zumbluskas, a 2022 GOP candidate for the 12th Congressional District, told The Epoch Times.

“It’s unknown how much Johnson is going to be able to help Republican candidates raise money.  He’s going to have to rely on some of the older members of Congress.”

Mr. Zumbluskas is among the conservative pundits who are skeptical that Mr. Johnson will have the same impact on the 2024 elections that Mr. McCarthy had on the 2022 elections.

“He doesn’t have the notoriety or the fundraising ability,” Mr. Zumbluskas said.

Mr. McCarthy raised $27.3 million in 2022 compared to $548,002 raised by Mr. Johnson.

Mr. Zumbluskas wants to see Mr. Johnson embrace local political stars like former 1st District Congressman Lee Zeldin and controversial but popular national politicians, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) and former President Donald Trump, to help him raise money for New York candidates.

“Zeldin is well-known in New York and especially to the Republican base,” Mr. Zumbluskas said. “He can give every candidate a boost, including first-timers who don’t have name recognition. The New York Republican party also needs to help the state Senate and state assembly candidates and have them run as a slate the way Democrats do.”

Often described as a political conciliator, Mr. McCarthy’s removal is spearheading a team-based approach to fundraising that Mr. Zumbluskas believes is long overdue among conservatives.

New York Congressional District 12 candidate Mike Zumbluskas in an undated file photo. (Juliette Fairley/The Epoch Times)

“Too many Republicans run an individual campaign,” he said.

Grow the Majority, launched by Mr. Johnson, is the equivalent of the McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund, which raised more than $550 million in four years.

Mr. Johnson’s joint fund-raising committee includes funding for Republican parties located in swing states, House GOP incumbents, the Republican National Committee, and Republican candidates campaigning in Democratic-captive districts.

New York, with its multiple swing districts, is well positioned to receive Grow the Majority’s financial backing.

“There’s nothing wrong with a team-based approach,” Mr. Curry added. “Maybe that’s the right approach between now and the time Speaker Johnson’s name continues to rise a cycle from now to the point where he can shoulder more of it.”

Although GOP leaders aren’t counting Mr. Johnson out, they are pointing to alternatives, such as Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, House Republican Conference Chair, who is an advocate for Capitol Hill’s New York delegation.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) speaks at a press conference following a House Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on May 16, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

“She is a fundraising dynamo, both at the grassroots level and at the big dollar donor level,” Jason Weingartner, New York GOP executive director, told The Epoch Times. “She’s been a great partner with the state party. We work hand in glove with her on everything from elections to fundraising and everything in between.”

As of Sept. 30, Ms. Stefanik raised $3.4 million, according to Open Secrets data.

New York as a delegation, led by Ms. Stefanik, tried to defend Mr. McCarthy in the initial January vote and the final vote that ultimately removed him from the speakership in October.

“McCarthy clearly had longer national political experience, and that’s why the eight Republicans with the 210 Democrats who removed him from the position made a critical mistake,” Mr. Faso added. “The more critical aspect in terms of the 2024 election is Speaker Johnson and the House majority showing they can govern.”

As a result, Mr. McCarthy is expected to distribute money from his joint fundraising account to support them whether he is House Speaker or not.

“He has pledged to continue to help candidates raise money,” Mr. Weingartner added. “McCarthy was nothing but generous to New York Republicans and our House delegation. We’re blessed to have a staunch ally in McCarthy. The fundraising relationships he has developed over the years will remain invaluable.”

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