It was an eye-popping fundraising figure.
Sen. Ted Cruz – thanks in part to his vocal criticism of President Biden -- and his backing of former President Trump’s bid to reverse the 2020 election results – brought in more than $5.3 million during the January-March first quarter (Q1) of fundraising this year.
The haul, first reported by Fox News, was divided between his reelection committee, his leadership political action committee, and a separate joint fundraising committee.
The conservative and polarizing senator from Texas, who has long had success with fundraising, isn’t up for re-election until 2024. But Cruz is considered a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, and his fundraising figures going forward will be closely scrutinized as if he were in-cycle running for reelection.
"It’s a little bit too early to draw some longstanding conclusions about what this means for 2024 but obviously people are going to begin to start looking" at the fundraising figures, longtime Republican strategist Jim Merrill, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns, noted.
Another GOP senator who’s not up for re-election until 2024 and who’s also considered a potential White House hopeful, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, raised more than $3 million the past three months, an impressive haul for the freshman lawmaker.
Cruz and Hawley – both strong supporters of efforts to challenge the results of the 2020 election Trump falsely claimed he won -- were the ring leaders of a small group of Republican senators who objected to certifying Biden’s razor-thin victories in Arizona and Pennsylvania, just hours after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists and other Trump supporter hoping to disrupt congressional certification of Biden’s election victory over the then-president.
Cruz reported $5.6 million cash on hand as of the end of March, with Hawley showing more than $3.1 million in his campaign coffers.
Like Cruz, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky ran for their party’s presidential nomination in 2016 and might have national ambitions again in 2024. But first Rubio and Paul are up for re-election in the 2022 midterms.
Paul raised $1.9 million the past three months, with $3.1 million cash on hand. Rubio brought in $1.6 million during the first quarter, with $3.9 million in the bank.
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, who’s also considered a possible 2024 contender and who’s also up for re-election next year, had around $9 million cash on hand at the end of the first quarter.
Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, another potential presidential hopeful, was just re-elected in November. He raised nearly $400,000 the first three months of this year, with roughly $6.5 million in his campaign coffers. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the current chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, mostly self-financed his 2018 Senate election. The former two-term Florida governor raised nearly $100,000 this past quarter, with just under $2.2 million cash on hand.
Scott’s successor as Florida governor, Republican Ron DeSantis, is up for re-election next year. DeSantis has seen his 2024 GOP star rise in recent months and reportedly hauled in more than $11 million the past six and a half months. Roughly half of that amount coming since the start of the current Florida legislative session at the beginning of March.
The biggest question in this extremely early period in the next White House race is whether Trump – who’s been repeatedly flirting with running again - will actually launch a bid to recapture the presidency. The former president’s been aggressively fundraising since his election loss last November. Fox News confirmed earlier this month that Trump’s Save America leadership PAC had $85 million cash on hand.
With many corporate political action committees shying away from contributing to Trump and his allies in the wake of the storming of the Capitol, much of the fundraising by the former president and some of the other potential 2024 contenders is grassroots driven.
Merrill emphasized that when the fundraising figures, it’s important to look at "who’s showing strength among the grassroots and low dollar donors. That was a proven way of President Trump succeeding and I think the 2024 candidates who are able the crack that code among grassroots givers are going to set themselves up for success in years down the road."