Big Republican donors haven’t been much help in pushing California Rep. Kevin McCarthy over the finish line in his bid to become speaker of the House of Representatives.
The reason: His dissenters don’t need them.
About half the Republicans opposing Mr. McCarthy’s bid for House speaker fund their campaigns through small, online contributions instead of counting on major donors and corporate political-action committees, a Wall Street Journal review of Federal Election Commission reports found.
Those streams of $5 and $10 donations can turn into a flood when a lawmaker stakes out a contrarian position and stokes political drama.
“Many of the holdouts do not rely on major donors, PACs and the traditional offerings that a political party can provide,” said Ken Spain, a corporate adviser in Washington and former communications director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “There’s a perverse incentive for members to elevate their personal brand at the expense of the governing majority.”
The changed political-fundraising landscape cuts across both parties: Some of the Democrats’ top online fundraisers are the ones who have occasionally been at odds with their party’s leadership, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.