Times Union: Stefanik raises voice on GOP fundraising and recruiting women

Published on September 20, 2019 by Emilie Munson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik wants more women in the House, and she’s unabashed about a key ingredient to do it: money.

Her disruptive voice on the issues of GOP fundraising and recruiting is likely to play a sizable role as the party reaches for the goal of retaking the House in 2020 with President Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

“I’ve raised almost half a million and we have given out over $100,000 at this point to both Republican women incumbents and a number of Republican women candidates,” said Stefanik, a three-term Representative from Schuylerville, who runs a PAC to support GOP women running for Congress.

She noted that half of the top-tier candidates in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” effort are women.

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened,” said Stefanik, who was one of only 13 Republican women elected to the U.S. House in 2018 — a historic low for the party and far short of the 89 Democratic Congresswomen elected.

Ahead of 2020, Stefanik is working closely with her friend Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., the NRCC’s 2020 recruitment chair. Stefanik had that job in 2018 and was the first woman to fill the role.

Stefanik “understands the districts across the country even better than I do because she did it last cycle,” Brooks said.

They believe their efforts are working so far: Party recruiters have fielded at least one female candidate in 27 of the 40 most competitive House seats that are open or held by a Democrat, the National Journal reported.

“As of last week, out of more than 500 people who have reached out to the NRCC about running, more than 220 are women,” said Brooks. “I’m excited that there is a huge number — far more than there have been in the past.”

“As of last week, out of more than 500 people who have reached out to the NRCC about running, more than 220 are women,” said Brooks. “I’m excited that there is a huge number — far more than there have been in the past.”

Stefanik has personally spoken to over 150 female candidates to date, said Madison Anderson, her spokesperson. That includes Ola Hawatmeh, a fashion designer and stylist who is one of three Republicans challenging Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, whose district is rated a toss-up in 2020.

Stefanik’s focus on “elevating and empowering women” is part of her vision of a long-term strategy for the GOP, one that acknowledges how America is changing demographically and politically, said Lenny Alcivar, a Stefanik campaign adviser.

Her fundraising and recruiting work raises her stature and influence within the party, multiple sources said.

“She has been very vocal about the need for a new generation of leaders inside the party and inside Congress like her,” said Kevin Madden, a communications strategist and former senior adviser for Sen. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns. “She is putting her time, effort and her campaign treasury into meeting these goals, and these are ultimately goals that are going to be to the benefit of the party and I think in her view, Congress overall.”

Red dollars

It’s no secret that new female recruits will need money to win at the primary level and in the general election.

Stefanik recently clashed with Trump operatives at a House GOP retreat in Baltimore over WinRed, the newly launched Republican online fundraising platform intended to rival the Democratic juggernaut ActBlue, Politico reported.

Stefanik worried that lawmakers who use the platform would have to share their donor data with other people — even primary opponents.

“I want to make sure that campaign data is kept private for House Congressional campaigns, and I hope that’s the direction they move in,” Stefanik told the Times Union last week. ” … For our campaign, we have very strong data privacy.”

A vast majority of Republicans are signed up to use WinRed already, a source with knowledge of the platform said.

From a technology standpoint, WinRed will facilitate Republicans collecting small-dollar donations. The GOP has traditionally been associated with larger giving from wealthy individuals, said Gayle Alberda, an assistant professor of political science at Fairfield University and Republican campaign veteran.

But having a platform doesn’t ensure grassroots giving will occur.

“As far as who’s giving, if that doesn’t change, then it is not really going to have that big of an impact,” Alberda said. “And if we are going to change who gives, then sometimes you need to change what you stand for, you need to change your positions — and that’s the harder part.”


Stefanik’s criticism was in line with her reputation as a disrupter within the party, sources said.

In 2018, Stefanik revamped her leadership PAC, E-PAC, to boost women in primaries similar to the intent of Emily’s List, a Democratic organization whose name is an acronym for “Early Money Is Like Yeast.”

At first, the chairman of the RNCC, Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., called working publicly in primaries a “mistake,” Roll Call reported.

Stefanik, who won a primary in 2014 to get her seat, fired back on Twitter: “NEWSFLASH I wasn’t asking for permission.”

When she officially relaunched her PAC in January 2019, it was with the support of the GOP establishment — including Emmer, who said the party was “going to align with you to the extent we can.”

“Congresswoman Stefanik has been a fantastic ally in Chairman Emmer’s mission to get more female Republicans elected to Congress,” said Michael McAdams, national press secretary for the NRCC. “We hope she stays involved in recruiting more female candidates for years to come.”

Stefanik’s E-PAC will announce it first slate of endorsements in November, said Anderson.

Candidates must raise at least $250,000 in first quarter, have some semblance of a campaign team and a plan of action to win to receive an endorsement. A handful of other PACs also raise for Republican women.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is also active on fundraising to help more women get elected to Congress.

You can read the whole article at https://www.timesunion.com