Campaign donations to some of the House's most prominent Tea Party insurgents tumbled in recent months, and several of the chamber's most conservative new members struggled to match the fundraising pace of their business-backed primary challengers, new campaign filings show.
Fundraising fell in the July-to-September fundraising quarter for two-thirds of the 42 House Republicans elected since 2010 who signed an August letter that urged House leaders to tie dismantling the Affordable Care Act to a bill funding the government, a USA TODAY analysis shows. That letter, circulated by first-term Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., helped ignite the budget showdown that shuttered parts of the government for 16 days this month.
In Detroit's upscale Oakland County suburbs, first-term Republican Rep. Kerry Bentivolio raised $59,177, a 10% drop from his haul in the previous fundraising quarter. In less than a month on the campaign trail, Bentivolio's primary challenger, lawyer David Trott, raised nearly $650,000. Trott tapped $200,000 of his own funds plus donations from prominent business leaders in Michigan, including billionaire Amway heir Dick DeVos.
In Florida, first-term Rep. Ted Yoho, who argued that a debt default would "stabilize the world's markets," took in $51,000 during the third quarter, down from $117,900 during the previous three months.
...The national money could be a problem for the tea party guys, but you know that they're in real trouble when local business groups start mobilizing against them.
In recent weeks, primary challengers to Tea Party-aligned incumbents have emerged in at least other three other congressional districts — in North Carolina, Alabama and in western Michigan. In Michigan, Rep. Justin Amash, a rising star among conservatives who was part of an attempted coup this year against House Speaker John Boehner, faces investment manager Brian Ellis. (Ellis entered the race in October after the books closed on the third fundraising quarter of the year.)
The fundraising reports come as a growing number of Washington trade groups, typically aligned with Republicans in Congress, have raised concerns about the economic toll of Washington's fiscal crises. Several business leaders say they are considering backing primary challengers to Tea Party incumbents.