Republicans are seeking to win control of the Senate in the next election cycle, and they’re turning to a specific group of candidates to help them: those with enough cash to support their own campaigns.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee is zeroing in on possible candidates who have enough money in their personal bank accounts to self-fund a competitive campaign, hoping to allocate party resources to other tight races. So far, the party has targeted at least 10 candidates with significant net worth who are considering launching their own Senate runs, according to Politico.
The shift in strategy comes after Democrats had a better-than-expected performance during the 2022 midterm elections, vastly outraising their Republican counterparts and boosting the party to expand their majority in the Senate. During the 2022 cycle alone, Democratic nominees raised $288 million more than GOP candidates in the six closest Senate races.
Relying on self-funded campaigns could be a game changer for the Republican Party as candidates are not limited to how much of their own money they can spend. As a result, NRSC Chairman Steve Daines is seeking to recruit candidates who are either good fundraisers or personally wealthy, sources told Politico.
Republicans are especially homing in on Senate races in West Virginia, Montana, and Ohio, where Democratic incumbents are considered vulnerable as they run in states that former President Donald Trump won in 2020.
At least two wealthy candidates are lining up to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), including tech executive Bernie Moreno and state Sen. Matt Dolan, whose family owns the Cleveland Guardians. Dolan has already declared a bid for the 2024 cycle, building on previous efforts to nab a Senate seat in 2022 when he spent more than $10.5 million on his campaign. He finished third in the primary.
In Montana, Daines is pressing Tim Sheehy, the founder of Bridger Aerospace, to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), who is considered to be one of the GOP’s top targets. Bridger Aerospace was valued at $869 million last year, giving Sheehy a boost should he choose to run.
In West Virginia, Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is eyeing a bid to take on Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), hoping to use his coal mining wealth to boost his campaign.
Republicans are eyeing a number of other candidates to line their pockets and launch campaigns, including Eric Hovde, a Wisconsin real estate executive; Karrin Taylor Robson, a land-use attorney and developer in Arizona; David McCormick, a former hedge fund CEO in Pennsylvania; and Kevin Rinke, a businessman in Michigan.
There are a total of 34 Senate seats up for grabs in the 2024 election cycle. Of these, Democrats must defend 23, compared to just 11 for Republicans. The circumstances put Republicans in a strong position to flip some crucial Senate seats that could easily shift the balance of power in the upper chamber.
Democrats now hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate, with the advantage of having Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker vote if needed.
As a result, Republicans only need to flip one Senate seat to win the majority should they win back the White House in 2024. If they don’t regain the Oval Office, the party only needs to secure two extra Senate seats.