On Wednesday, GOP Rep. Mike Johnson became the newest speaker of the House.
He's succeeding Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Nancy Pelosi, fundraising powerhouses, in the role.
Johnson, however, has never raised more than $1.3 million in an election cycle.
During his tenure as a GOP leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy was a highly efficient fundraiser, sending tens of millions of dollars each year to PACs supporting the Republican Party and his own campaign. Now, with Rep. Mike Johnson having replaced McCarthy as House speaker, the party may grapple for some time with how different Johnson is from his predecessor.
In addition to its everyday role helping to lead the legislature on Capitol Hill, the speaker of the House also typically acts as a leading fundraiser for their respective political party. The two most recent speakers, McCarthy and Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, were fundraising juggernauts when leading their caucuses.
Pelosi, for example, helped raise more than $400 million for Democrats in her 20 years leading the party, while McCarthy — who held GOP leadership positions for more than a decade before his short-lived time as speaker — similarly assisted GOP PACs in raising hundreds of millions to support Republican candidates across the country.
But now it's neither Pelosi's nor McCarthy's name posted above the entrance of the speaker's office. After weeks of Republican infighting amid a new crisis in the Middle East and a looming government shutdown, the House GOP finally decided it was Johnson who would lead the party in perpetuity.
Johnson, however, has nowhere near the fundraising experience or even name recognition as his predecessors. Since first getting elected in 2016, the Louisiana Republican has emerged successful in all three of his reelection bids, though in one he ran unopposed.
According to Federal Election Commission fundraising records, Johnson has never brought in more than $1.3 million in contributions in any of his election cycles. In the 2023-2024 election cycle, he's reportedly raised only $553,013 — a far cry from McCarthy's $14 million.
Not all is lost for House Republicans — Politico reported on Wednesday that McCarthy's "fundraising guru," Jeff Miller, planned to stick around and assist Johnson with the task of fundraising for more than 200 legislators, which will most likely ameliorate some of the damage to the party's pockets amid McCarthy's sudden ouster.
Johnson's rise to the speakership comes just over a year before the 2024 election, where the Republican Party hopes to expand its majority in the House.
In an interview with Jordan Peterson just prior to the 2022 midterm elections, Johnson predicted the Republicans would gain a "large majority" in the House and a one- to two-seat majority in the Senate. Neither prediction ultimately came true: Republicans gained only a slim majority of the House and managed to lose footing in the Senate.
Less than two years later, it's now Johnson's responsibility to make sure the Republican Party remains in power. It's only a matter of time before Americans learn whether it's too much of an ask.
Correction: October 27, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misidentified a former House speaker. The speaker was named Kevin McCarthy, not Mike McCarthy.
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