AP NEWS

Stop Pelosi website raises $50,000 in first hours

October 24, 2018 GMT

A website set up to solicit and dole out campaign donations to key races that could stop Rep. Nancy Pelosi from becoming House speaker raised more than $50,000 in its first hours, organizers said.

Created by Rep. Jim Banks, Indiana Republican, StopSpeakerPelosi.com was intended to help Republicans boost their online campaign finance game an area where Democrats have held a serious advantage.

The website asks people to donate and then divides the cash among Republicans in 23 House races, which corresponds to the number of seats Democrats need to capture in order to retake control of the chamber for the first time since the 2010 elections.

The candidates span Florida to California, with four races in Virginia making the list, suggesting just how quickly that state has turned into a key battleground.

Mr. Banks said what spurred him to action was hearing Mrs. Pelosi tell CNN earlier this week that she’s confident Democrats will win control of the House, and that her colleagues will elect her speaker her second time at the helm.

“We’ve been talking about it since the beginning of the cycle. All of the sudden we’re here, the election is a little less than two weeks away and she’s already declaring victory,” Mr. Banks said. “That was a sucker punch for me.”

He took inspiration for StopSpeakerPelosi from Act Blue, which funnels donations to Democratic candidates, and which has had a blockbuster year. Mr. Banks said even long-shot candidates are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars thanks to Democrats’ ability to tap small-dollar donors online.

The average donation to the Pelosi-blocking website so far is $23, amounting to $1 to each campaign.

Organizers said they are trying to tap GOP fears over what a Pelosi-led House would do to the Republican agenda and particularly to President Trump.

“Impeachment is on the table. Tax cuts are on the table. They’re going to swamp the administration with investigations,” said Jordan Gehrke, a GOP consultant who helped craft the effort.

Mrs. Pelosi’s political campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but pundits have debated her effect on voters this year, with some suggesting she no longer plays the same outsized role in voters’ minds that she may once have.

Mr. Gehrke said from what he’s seeing, she remains a crystalizing force.

He is working for a Republican in a race for a House seat in Virginia and said they’ve gone heavy on a stop-Pelosi message for the last few weeks. He said that’s turned the race from a near-tie to a decent advantage for the Republican.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also seems to think Mrs. Pelosi is poisonous for voters in his state.

This week he offered to pay her expenses for her to come campaign for Democrats in Texas.

“No Californian represents the principles of big government and higher taxes better than California Congresswoman and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi,” Abbott campaign manager John Jackson wrote in the invitation letter.

He also offered to give Mrs. Pelosi a list of barbecue joints she might try out, should she take the governor up on the offer.

That seems unlikely.

Speaking at a CNN-sponsored forum earlier this week, Mrs. Pelosi said she considers this year’s elections a district-by-district fight, not a national campaign.

“These races have a lot to do with what’s going on in their districts, and how they will represent their district,” she said.

She was also confident Democrats would prevail.

“If the election were held today, the Democrats would handily win the House,” she said.