House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy raked in $9.5 million at a Wednesday night fundraiser in downtown Washington, a major sum that kicks off his drive to win the speaker’s gavel next year.
The figure is a new record for McCarthy: His previous largest haul at a Washington event was $350,000, according to a person familiar with Wednesday’s fundraiser.
The fundraiser shows how Republican donors are mobilizing ahead of this year’s midterm elections. With House Democrats holding a slim majority and confronting an increasingly daunting political environment, Republicans are widely regarded as the favorites to win control of the chamber.
The event, which was held at the Trump Hotel, drew a little over 100 attendees. More than 50 corporate PACs were represented as well as an array of major individual donors, many of whom flew in from out of town. Organizers began sending out invitations to the fundraiser in early January. Attendees were asked to contribute up to $100,000 apiece, with proceeds going to the minority leader’s campaign and leadership PAC accounts as well as the National Republican Congressional Committee.
The event was initially to be held at Mastro’s Steakhouse but was eventually moved to the Trump Hotel to accommodate the crowd. McCarthy spoke for around 30 minutes and introduced a multitude of ranking committee members who came out for the event.
The event was hosted by Jeff Miller, a longtime McCarthy friend and fundraiser, and was co-hosted by Sam Geduldig, a veteran Washington lobbyist, and John Stipicevic, a lobbyist and former McCarthy adviser.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years,” said Geduldig. “I’ve never seen anything like this. This was so much more intense in a positive way.”
While Republicans are seen as well-positioned to take control of the House, Democrats have so far had the edge in fundraising. Through the end of November, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had raised $130 million, compared to the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $122 million.