ICYMI: Chairman Hudson talks candidate quality, fundraising & strategy to grow the majority

June 6, 2024

NRCC Chairman Richard Hudson sat down with the Washington Reporter to chat about the NRCC’s all-star lineup of candidates, the strategy to grow the majority & fundraising — including raising over $1 million online since the Trump trial verdict.

This fundraising bonanza was fueled by an influx of first-time NRCC donors, with 32 percent having never given to the Committee before the verdict.

In case you missed it…

Inside the NRCC’s strategy to expand the House majority
The Washington Reporter
Matthew Foldi
June 6, 2024

While all eyes are on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue this November, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is focused on protecting and expanding the narrowest House majority in America’s history, its chairman, Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), told the Washington Reporter.

In order to keep the House red, Hudson said the NRCC will have to keep up its fundraising efforts. And, he told the Reporter, the NRCC is in a great place financially following the felony convictions against President Donald Trump. 

“Since the verdict, we’ve raised well over $1 million online,” he said. “We shattered our one-day fundraising record. Previously, our best day was the first full day of Speaker Mike Johnson’s speakership, where we raised $175,000. On the first day, that day of the verdict, we raised over $300,000 and in about five days, we’ve topped $1 million,” which came from an influx of voters that included 32 percent of first-time NRCC donors.

Awash with cash, Hudson’s plans, unsurprisingly, start with his home state of North Carolina, where he is already predicting three GOP flips in the 6th, 13th, and 14th Districts. In the state’s 1st District, Hudson is optimistic that military veteran Laurie Buckhout can on freshmen Rep. Don Davis and help the GOP net four seats in the Tarheel State. 

“Laurie Buckhout is one of our best candidates in the country in North Carolina’s 1st District,” Hudson told the Reporter. “It’s a district I think Trump’s going to carry. And Laurie is a retired colonel in the army, she is a cyber expert, she led troops in combat [and she] can win that seat.”

There are plenty of Republican targets outside of North Carolina. Another target-ripe state is Pennsylvania, where Hudson sees potential for three down-ballot flips. Hudson said that Rob Bresnahan and Ryan Mackenzie have the best odds at beating Reps. Matt Cartwright and Susan Wild, respectively. He even sees a path to victory for Rob Mercuri in Pennsylvania’s 17th District, while conceding that the Pittsburgh-based district is more of an uphill climb.

“This time around,” Hudson said, “Trump’s going to win Pennsylvania. We’ve got a stronger Senate candidate Pennsylvania. The dynamics are going to be in our favor this time around. So I think we’ve got great opportunity there for pickups.”

One race where Hudson’s personal preferences shine through is in the Northeast. The NRCC chair, an avid NASCAR fan, is particularly excited about Trump-endorsed state Rep. Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver, who is seeking to oust Rep. Jared Golden in Maine. 

“Austin Theriault is a great candidate,” Hudson said, cautioning that victory is far from assured down-ballot even though Trump is likely to carry the district, and its electoral vote, in November. “Our problem, our challenge, in Maine is, obviously, you got ranked choice voting, but then you got Jared Golden, who’s a veteran, has a tattoo, drives a pickup truck, but then he comes to Washington and votes 85 percent with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and 90 percent with Joe Biden.” 

While Golden has taken advantage of Maine’s ranked choice voting system, Hudson thinks this time will be different. Theriault is “a longtime Maine resident, [his] family’s got a long history there, he has a French last name, which is about as important in Maine as it is in Louisiana in politics.” And, even more concerningly for Democrats, “Golden has come out for some gun control measures in the last year, which put him at odds with the people of Maine.”

Elsewhere in New England, Hudson singled out George Logan, who has been consistently outraising Rep. Jahana Hayes (D., Ct.), in a rematch of the 2022 cycle. On the West Coast, “we’ve got another Trump district,” the NRCC chair noted. “Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is the incumbent, and we’ve got a primary. So not sure which one of those candidates emerges, either a veteran, Joe Kent, or a woman, Leslie Lewallen, and we think either one’s going to run strong.”

Even in California, where there is plenty of defense the GOP has to do, Hudson is optimistic that the party can oust Democratic incumbents like Rep. Josh Harder. Hudson is “really excited” about Stockton mayor Kevin Lincoln, who is “the very successful Republican mayor of a Democrat city in Stockton, which dominates this district.” Hudson also urged Republicans to not forget about Alaska’s House seat, “the most Republican seat held by a Democrat.” This cycle, the GOP recruited the state’s lieutenant governor, Nancy Dahlstrom, who is a “very strong candidate for us.” Earlier this week, Speaker Mike Johnson also singled Dahlstrom out to the Reporter as one of his favorite candidates.

Defeating an incumbent is never easy, and Hudson is quick to point out that a wave of Democratic retirements is adding further fuel to the GOP’s fire. Look no further than California, where Democrats gifted the GOP its dream candidate in “DUI Dave Min,” who “got a DUI in a state vehicle last year.” Beyond Min’s criminal record, Republicans are excited that he won’t have the resources that outgoing Rep. Katie Porter had in this “R+2 district where Katie Porter spent $26 million” to narrowly win last cycle.

While both parties have seen a surge in retirements, not all retirements are created equal. “The mainstream press has enjoyed writing about Republican retirements,” Hudson said, yet “zero of those Republican retirements have been in competitive seats,” and “eight of those Democrat retirements have been in competitive seats so it’s a real problem for them.”

It’s not all going to be easy for Republicans, however. But Hudson is confident in Republicans who Democrats want to oust are ready for November. Looking specifically at the Empire State, he noted that “you’ve got four New Yorkers who are in districts that Biden carried last time, that we’ve got concerns for, but these are battle tested candidates,” referring to Reps. Anthony D’Esposito, Michael Lawler, Brandon Williams, and Marc Molinaro. 

However, Hudson praised the New Yorkers for doing “a very good job of working their districts, building strong brands. I think they’re gonna outperform the top ticket, and I feel good about it.” He even sees a silver lining for the GOP in New York, singling out former New York Police Department commander Alison Esposito as a rockstar candidate who can take out Rep. Pat Ryan — last cycle, Esposito carried the district when she was Lee Zeldin’s running mate.

While the economy, inflation, and border security remain top issues for voters in districts across the country, Hudson believes that the rise in anti-Semitic protests across America place Democrats squarely between a rock and a Hamas place. Beyond condemning the violent and often-illegal tent cities that occupied campuses across America as “disgusting example[s] of racism that the Democrats are really struggling with,” Hudson also tied the issue to Democratic candidates across the country and their funders.

Democrats are “taking money from the same people who are funding these protests, [and] vot[ing] to deny Israel access to munitions and supplies,” he said. Many of the competitive districts have major constituencies where Democratic complacency on Palestinian terrorism is poised to play poorly.

While Hudson boasts a near-encyclopedic knowledge of House districts and their PVIs, he isn’t slacking when it comes to bringing home the bacon, either, citing the “huge priority” of the recent MilCon/VA bill. His district is home to Fort Bragg, the largest army base in the world. Beyond scoring wins on issues like netting $378 billion for veterans programs, the recent bill had major conservative wins he cited, such as banning taxpayer funding of critical race theory (CRT) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the military.

Read the full article and read a transcript of the interview here.