By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four candidates backed by Donald Trump to challenge Republican lawmakers who voted to impeach him or boot him from office are falling behind in raising money for their campaigns, according to disclosures filed on Friday.
Trump, who left office in January, remains a major influence within the Republican party, which hopes to regain control of the U.S. Congress in next year’s elections.
Only a handful of Republicans joined Democrats when Congress voted to impeach Trump and then held an unsuccessful vote in the Senate to remove him from office, on a charge he incited insurrectionists to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Trump has called the Republicans who crossed him “disloyal” or “losers,” and they have faced scorn within their party. Several have said they will retire or not seek re-election.
But those who are facing Trump-backed candidates in upcoming party nomination contests so far have raised more money than their challengers, which might help them counter Trump’s campaign against them.
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, a moderate who was one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump in the Senate, raised $1.1 million between July and September, more than the twice the $466,000 raised by her Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka, a former state administration commissioner endorsed by Trump.
Murkowski – who ended September with $3.2 million in the bank, more than 10 times what Tshibaka had – raked in money from corporate-run donor committees, according to a disclosure Murkowski filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Murkowski also raised more than $75,000 through a joint fundraising effort with several senators endorsed by Trump, including Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who voted against convicting Trump.
Raising more money by no means guarantees victory, but it can help candidates buy expensive television advertisements and pay campaign staff.
Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who is widely seen in great peril of losing her seat because of her vote to impeach Trump and her vocal criticism of the former president, raised $1.7 million during the three-month period.
Her Trump-endorsed opponent, attorney Harriet Hageman, entered the race in early September and raised about $300,000, or roughly $100,000 a week, shy of Cheney’s fundraising pace.
Cheney, the highest-profile lawmaker of the 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump, drew donations from a number of Wall Street executives, including Blackstone Chief Investment Officer Prakash Melwani. Hageman received a donation from billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
Trump has also endorsed opponents to U.S. Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state, who both voted to impeach him.
Upton raised $293,000 between July and September, more than the twice the $116,000 raised by his Trump-endorsed challenger, state lawmaker Steve Carra.
Herrera Beutler not only voted to impeach Trump, she submitted evidence in his Senate trial against the former president. She took in $524,000 during the period, outraising Trump-backed Army veteran Joe Kent, who raised $452,000.
Trump also endorsed his former White House aide Max Miller to challenge U.S. Representative Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who said in September he would not seek re-election. Miller’s disclosure filed on Friday showed his campaign raised $695,000, most of which came from a half-million-dollar contribution he made to his own campaign.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Leslie Adler)