“What does one have to do to get censured around here?” That is a question more and more congressional Democrats may be asking themselves after their colleague Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) announced that his Senate campaign raised an eye-popping $8.1 million in the second quarter.
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In today’s hyper-partisan environment, being able to play the victim or becoming a target of the opposition offers major rewards. This has always been true for former President Donald Trump, who is the master of pretending that sinister forces are out to get him. However, this strategy also works for Democrats, as California Rep. Adam Schiff impressively demonstrated Wednesday.
That isn’t to say that their situations are entirely comparable.
Trump has been impeached twice, indicted on serious charges, found guilty of sexual abuse, and he is the subject of multiple ongoing investigations.
In each case, he has pretended to be the target of a “witch hunt.”
Schiff, on the other hand, was censured by the Republican-led House last month for his role in one of those impeachments.
At the time, the lawmaker said he would wear this symbolic punishment, which was weeks in the making, as a “badge of honor.” He also argued that the vote was intended to silence him.
While their “offenses” are very different, the way they sought to capitalize on them isn’t.
Every time anybody has tried to hold Trump to account, Republicans and his right-wing media allies have rallied behind him, he has raised large amounts of money, and, ultimately, his poll numbers among his base have improved.
For Schiff, being censured has also turned out to be a boon.
The lawmaker, who is running to fill Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Senate seat next year, announced that his campaign had raised an eye-popping $8.1 million in the second quarter. That is the most money any Senate candidate has ever raised this far ahead of an election.
Even more impressive is that small-money donors were primarily responsible for this record haul. A stunning 144,000 unique donors gave to the campaign, and the average contribution was just $34.
These figures are consistent with data compiled by OpenSecrets, an organization that tracks money in politics.
The list of the top ten lawmakers whose campaigns were fueled by donations of less than $200 reads like a who-is-who of politicians vilified by their respective opposition.
On the left, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is leading the way. The progressive icon is getting more than 70 percent of his donations from people who give small amounts. He is followed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Schiff, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), who is running for the same Senate seat, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
On the right, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) gets the highest share of small-money donors (68 percent). Next on the list are Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Jim Jordan (R-OH).
Again, the two groups of lawmakers are not the same. While all of them are populists in their own right, the latter group consists of provocateurs and performance artists.
However, if you asked Republicans which congressional Democrats they dislike the most and vice versa, you would hear most of the same names, which just goes to show that being hated by the opposition is one of the most effective fundraising strategies for lawmakers from both parties.