But new campaign funding applications released this week show Gonzalez narrowly surprised his Trump-backed primary enemy last quarter while boasting a war chest nearly three times the size of his opponent.
“Many times I could not care less what the former president says about me or says period – apart from the more dangerous elements of his speeches,” Gonzalez told CNN.
The National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the House’s GOP’s main campaign arm, stays out of the primary – saying it is the group’s policy not to participate in conflicts within the party – leaving candidates to fend for themselves.
Some Republicans facing Trump’s attack say they are fine with it.
GOP lawmakers are largely facing primary opponents who continue Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him, a kind of litmus test for candidates eager to win the former president’s approval.
Joe Kent, a retired U.S. Army Special Forces officer and Gold Star man who takes on the Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, backed by billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, told CNN: “I think Trump won, but I want to prove it.”
House GOP campaign manager plans to stay out of primary election
The two biggest fundraisers of the 10 who voted to accuse Trump have also been the highest against the former president: Cheney and the Illinois rep. Adam Kinzinger.
Kinzinger sharply outraised the competition and raised $ 806,475 between April and June. He now boasts a $ 3 million combat war chest, more than 20 times the cash of his GOP challenger Catalina Lauf.
GOP members claim they are not worried about the prospect of a tough primary election.
“I look forward to it,” Cheney said when asked about her primary against state lawmakers Chuck Gray and Anthony Bouchard, businessman Darin Smith and others. “It’s going to be a good race.”
Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, the NRCC chairman, told CNN that House members and other political committees may be involved in house races, but that his organization would not interfere in Republican primary elections, even for members of swing districts like the California Rep. David Valadao, who voted to accuse Trump.
“We do not want Washington’s heavy hand to enter the debate, the debate that voters in a particular district have over representation,” Emmer said. “That said, I will definitely see them win.”
In Ohio, Trump joined Max Miller, a 32-year-old former Marine Corps reservist and Trump campaigner, to take Gonzalez’s seat in 2022 and fought for Miller in June at his first demonstration since leaving the White House. New campaign records show Miller raised over $ 443,000 in the second quarter of the year, an impressive figure for a first-time candidate who was no doubt bolstered by Trump.
But Gonzalez raised even more – over $ 602,000 – and his campaign has $ 1.5 million available – nearly three times the size of Miller’s coffin as he defended himself against the fallout.
When asked if it would be helpful if the NRCC supported his campaign, Gonzalez said, “Sure,” but did not seem to trust any help. “I have been around long enough to know that you have to take care of your own business,” he added.
“I welcome their support, but I’m not waiting for a silver ball from outside.”
McCarthy is helping raise money for some Republican Trump critics
Half of the 10 House Republicans who voted to accuse Trump – Valadao, Beutler, Katko and Michigan Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer – have a joint fundraising committee with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and his management PAC, which has raised approximately $ 100,000 for each of the five campaigns in the first half of the year. The joint fundraising committee – known as Take Back the House 2022 – has not raised money for the other five: Cheney, Kinzinger, Gonzalez, Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse and the South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice.
Asked whether the House’s GOP management has helped his campaign, Valadao said: “They have all been very, very supportive.”
Challengers typically have a harder time raising money against established ones who have already established a connection with voters, donors, and powerful allies like McCarthy. Some of the pro-Trump challengers will be a long shot unless Trump comes to their aid.
“It’s hard for a Republican challenger in a sermon when you have a sitting Republican to raise money,” Chris Mathys, a Republican candidate fighting Valadao, told CNN. “At the end of the day, we are looking for support from the voters in the district. And they are extremely upset about Mr Valadao’s betrayal of his office.”
Mathys, who said he believes Trump won the 2020 election, raised $ 12,300 in the second quarter and gave his campaign a $ 100,000 loan. Valadao raised over $ 482,000 and has nearly $ 820,000 – double Mathys’ figure.
Asked whether he thinks his vote to accuse Trump will hurt him in the proclamation, Valadeo told CNN: “It’s hard to say. It really is. But we’ll find out.”
Pro-Trump challengers like Mathys believe they will get support on grassroots despite their poor fundraising. But some challengers have actually raised the money to run a credible campaign, even without Trump’s support.
In the state of Washington, Kent became more politically active after his wife, Navy cryptologist Shannon Kent, was killed in 2019 and carried out special operations against ISIS in Syria. Kent then decided to run for Congress after Beutler’s prosecution and has made “election integrity” one of his biggest campaign issues, although there is no evidence of widespread electoral fraud in the 2020 election. Kent $ 512,150 on hand – approx. half of Beutler’s cash.
“I want a full forensic review of any place (where) there were widespread disagreements,” Kent said of the 2020 election.
Yet most Republicans facing a tough primary challenge are simply pulling it off.
“I can not control what he does, and he can not control what I do,” Rice said of Trump.
CNN’s Morgan Rimmer contributed to this report.