By Jason Lange
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Four candidates supported by Donald Trump to challenge Republican lawmakers who voted to indict or remove him from office are falling behind in raising funds for their campaigns, according to disclosures filed Friday .
Trump, who stepped down in January, remains a key 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 the Democrats when Congress voted to oust Trump and then held an unsuccessful Senate vote to remove him from office on charges of inciting insurgents to take over the U.S. Capitol attack on January 6th.
Trump has labeled the Republicans who berated him “disloyal” or “loser” and they have been confronted with contempt within their party. Several have announced that they will retire or not run again.
But those facing Trump-backed candidates in the party’s upcoming nomination contests have so far raised more money than their challengers, which could help them counter Trump’s campaign against them.
Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, a moderate and one of seven Republicans who voted to condemn Trump in the Senate, raised $ 1.1 million between July and September, more than double the $ 466,000 that which her Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka, a former state administration, had collected supported Commissioner von Trump.
Murkowski – who ended up with $ 3.2 million in the bank in September, more than ten times what Tshibaka had – raised money from corporate-led donor committees, according to a disclosure Murkowski filed with the federal electoral commission.
Murkowski also raised more than $ 75,000 through a joint fundraiser with several Trump-backed Senators, including Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who voted against Trump’s condemnation.
Raising more money by no means guarantees victory, but it can help candidates buy expensive television advertising and pay campaign staff.
Wyoming MP Liz Cheney, who is at great risk of losing her seat because of her vote to impeach Trump and her vocal criticism of the former president, raised $ 1.7 million over the three-month period.
Her Trump-backed opponent, attorney Harriet Hageman, entered the race in early September and raised about $ 300,000, or about $ 100,000 per week, which was shy of Cheney’s pace of donation.
Cheney, the highest profile lawmaker of the 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to oust Trump, has received 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 supported opponents of US Representatives Fred Upton from Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler from Washington State, who both voted for impeachment.
Upton raised $ 293,000 between July and September, more than double the $ 116,000 raised by his Trump-backed challenger, state lawmaker Steve Carra.
Herrera Beutler not only voted for impeachment proceedings against Trump, she also presented evidence in his Senate trial against the former president. It raised $ 524,000 during the reporting period, surpassing Trump-backed Army Veteran Joe Kent, who raised $ 452,000.
Trump also backed his former White House advisor, Max Miller, to challenge Ohio MP Anthony Gonzalez, who said in September he would not run again. Miller’s disclosure, filed Friday, showed that his campaign raised $ 695,000, the majority of which came from half a million dollars he contributed to his own campaign.
(Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Leslie Adler)