Whether you think Devin Nunes is a craven Trump toady or a hero battling the forces of fake news, the Central Valley congressman sure knows how to rake in campaign loot. As McClatchyDC reports, he does so using narratives about shadowy enemies in the government and media trying to destroy him and the President—not to mention bizarro tchotchkes and petty lawsuits.
Over the course of two days in February, Nunes pulled in $50,000 after sending out a fundraising email that read, “Since I uncovered the left’s plot to overthrow President Trump, I’ve made myself one of their top targets and they will do anything to silence me. They believe that through a coordinated smear campaign with the fake news media, they can intimidate me into giving up.”
The subject line was, “They hate me.”
Yet even that haul was subpar for Nunes, who took in $4,000,000 in the first quarter of 2020.
And if none of that grabs you, Nunes sells fun collectibles, like the $30 “Deep State Russia Hoax Puzzle” he offered in an email to supporters Wednesday. The “exclusive” plaything reportedly features the faces of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and Robert Mueller on Russian dolls.
Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a nonpartisan University of Virginia publication on elections, says these kinds of tactics have made Nunes one of the few politicians whose fundraising efforts rival Trump’s own efforts.
“Having the right enemies is helpful for fundraising. That’s been true of the president and in general with Republicans,” Kondik tells McClatchy. “A lot of House members are pretty anonymous, but some of them rise above the din for one reason or another. Nunes is definitely one of those.”
Another way Nunes keeps his face out there is to sue pretty much anyone who dares print his name and then brag about it on Fox News.
Since 2019, he has filed defamation suits against the Washington Post, the Fresno Bee, CNN, Esquire Magazine, and Twitter—because anonymous user Devin Nunes’ Cow makes fun of him.
The day Nunes announced his suit against the Washington Post in March, he raised $144,000—his best day that quarter—and $80,000 the day after.
Kondik says that while Nunes’s fundraising technique is good for bringing in money, such notoriety can also cost him votes, pointing out that after years of winning elections by 30 points or more, Nunes slipped in by just five points in 2018 when liberals around the country sent $9 million to his opponent.
Nunes shows no signs of changing tactics. On Wednesday he tweeted that “Tech oligarchs” were trying to cover up a local TV news story suggesting that stay-at-home orders could be lifted.
Tech oligarchs banning this story https://t.co/nMgJVWcORM
— Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) April 29, 2020
Still, Kondik predicts Nunes will squeeze by again this year. “It could still be competitive, but it seems like a district that will vote for Trump again,” he said. “Maybe not in a landslide, but that should be enough for Nunes to win.”
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