These House Newbies Are Already Fundraising for 2020

Just weeks after midterms, some candidates have started raising money for the next round

Rep.-elect Jeff Van Drew, D-N.J., picked a disappointing number during the new member office lottery draw in Rayburn Building. But his campaign is already working on keeping him behind the desk. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

New Jersey Democrat Jeff Van Drew just got elected to Congress. He won’t be sworn in until Jan. 3. But his campaign is already working to keep him there.

Just weeks after he flipped a South Jersey seat that President Donald Trump carried in 2016, Van Drew joined a handful of other newly elected lawmakers in making appeals for donations for their next campaigns.

“We’re starting things early here in South Jersey because we know we cannot take a single thing for granted,” read Van Drew’s missive, according to a screen grab posted on Twitter by North Jersey Media Group reporter Herb Jackson.

Those messages, an early indication of new lawmakers’ sense of their own job security and the stakes of upcoming elections, were circulated late this week, as House freshmen on the Hill drew numbers in the office lottery (Van Drew’s No. 69 was the worst of the New Jersey House freshmen), cast votes for their party leaders and performed other routine tasks of incoming members of Congress.

In another sign that Van Drew is cognizant of his potential 2020 supporters, he was one of three newly elected Democrats from more conservative New Jersey districts to vote against Nancy Pelosi’s bid for speaker. Van Drew made a pledge to buck Pelosi during his campaign after his opponent branded him a “Pelosi liberal.”

Van Drew’s fundraising email cited the Cook Political Report, which included him on a list of 31 House Democrats who flipped seats in districts Trump won. Those seats will be obvious targets for Republicans seeking to pick up the 18 seats they will need to win back the majority in the next cycle, the Cook analysis said. 

Lucy McBath, another candidate on the list, sent an email Friday saying she was already “getting started” on her 2020 campaign in Georgia’s 6th District. The message outlined her personal story of becoming politically active after her son Jordan Davis was shot and killed in a racially motivated attack. The email noted that the previous Friday was the 6-year anniversary of Jordan’s death.

“Now, she’s a Congresswoman-elect in a district nobody thought a Democrat could ever win,” the email said.

Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono, who easily won re-election to her Senate seat, went back to potential donors in November to seek support for Mike Espy, who lost a special election for a Mississippi Senate seat this week, and other Democrats running in 2019 and 2020. 

It is unclear how many other members have already started their next campaigns.

More than 100 candidates have filed federally required paperwork announcing 2020 House campaigns since Election Day, according to Federal Election Commission records. Public records that would disclose fundraising activities will not be posted for several weeks.

Van Drew and McBath’s campaigns sought to create a sense of urgency in their appeals, though. Both referred to Friday as an “end of month” deadline. Logging donations before the end of the day would “help our re-election campaign start off strong by helping us hit our monthly goal,” McBath’s campaign said in its email. 

An FEC spokesman said such benchmarks are not set by federal regulators, who require candidates to file disclosure reports quarterly, not monthly. The first quarterly reports of the 2020 cycle are due Jan. 31.

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