Cash Crunch: Incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia trails Democrat George Whitesides under Trump's grip on the GOP


Apr 16, 2024 - The recent fundraising numbers to come out of the congressional campaigns in CA-27 underscores the fundraising problems that the entire Republican Party has had under the thumb of Donald Trump. Trump has essentially taken over the party. Trump has not just secured the nomination, but the skeletal structure of the party is now merged into Trump’s tumultuous campaign for President. Almost four years of Donald Trump asking small dollar donors for cash every day for multiple times a day have taken a significant toll on his fundraising haul. Moreover, the Republican Party faces the dual challenge of getting candidates elected and paying off Donald Trump’s mounting legal bills, the latter seeming to take priority since Trump took complete control.


Democrat George Whitesides outraises incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia

In the race for California’s 27th Congressional District, George Whitesides, the former NASA Chief-of-Staff under President Barack Obama, has a $1.3 million cash-on-hand advantage over incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Garcia. The Whitesides campaign claims that this is the “largest cash advantage of any candidate challenging an incumbent nationwide.” George Whitesides brought in around double the fundraising haul that Garcia raised this quarter. In the first quarter of 2024, Whitesides raised around $1.34 million in the first quarter of 2024. This brings his total haul to $4.3 million for the election cycle. Rep. Garcia raised $674,000 in the same period and has raised $3.6 million for the cycle.


“Voters in this district deserve better than Rep. Mike Garcia. We deserve a representative who is going to solve problems and deliver for this district instead of benefiting himself, and that’s why I’m running,” George Whitesides said in a press release. “I couldn’t be more grateful for this strong show of support, and I’m proud of the grassroots support we are building from the Antelope Valley to Santa Clarita to the San Fernando Valley.”


California Congressional District 27, one of 11 GOP-held seats that the Cook Political Report has designated a “Toss-up”, meaning Garcia and Whitesides have equal chance of winning in November 2024.


Information from

Donald Trump’s fundraising challenges having an effect down-ballot

The two root causes of Garcia’s lackluster fundraising are likely due to both the ouster of his close ally Kevin McCarthy, who raised millions for the House GOP, including Garcia, and GOP Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recent fundraising challenges.

The Washington Post recently reported that Trump has exhausted his vast fundraising network through constant emails and text messages asking for money. GOP consultants began to worry that his mailing lists were becoming worthless. The Post reported that even Trump’s biggest allies and donors told his campaign to reign in the solicitations for more money. Once a fundraising star who broke records with small-dollar donations, Donald Trump has become a victim of donor fatigue. His constant pleas for money have gone from inspiring grassroots support to a broken record.  The fundraising well seems to be running dry, with his once enthusiastic base now turning a deaf ear. He's in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder of small donations, having squeezed the nickel until it squeaks with his relentless requests.


Trump’s fundraising woes have been affecting Republican organizations and campaigns all the way down the ballot. Many of these organizations share fundraising contact lists with the Trump campaign. Democrats outraised Republicans in every contentious U.S. Senate race, and Democratic candidates’ cash-on-hand numbers dwarf Republican cash-on-hand numbers.


Still Trump did have a fundraising bump in the last quarter due to megadonors pouring cash into both the Trump Save America Committee and the newly formed Trump 47 Committee. This was largely due to a $814,600-a-plate fundraiser held in Palm Beach, Florida in March 2024. A large portion of the cash raised, however, is expected to go to Trump’s mounting legal bills.


Donald Trump’s takeover of the RNC

The Associated Press reported in March that Donald Trump, facing multiple criminal and civil charges, had reached a deal with the Republican National Committee, where his daughter-in-law Lara Trump had just been installed as co-Chair, to prioritize donations to the RNC to be redirected to pay Trump’s legal bills over financing party-building activities. The RNC has transformed from its traditional role of trying to get candidates elected to another fundraising arm for Donald Trump’s legal troubles. Ronna McDaniel, the former RNC Chair, was forced to resign after lackluster fundraising results. McDaniel had also drawn the anger of Donald Trump for hosting debates for GOP presidential candidates, which Trump had refused to participate in. Traditionally, the RNC has maintained a neutral position during presidential primaries where there is not incumbent president from the party, at least until a candidate reaches the threshold to be nominated. The RNC was one of the last bastions of old Republican Party, which essentially functioned as the head of the GOP, and it was swallowed whole by Donald Trump’s campaign. The merger prioritized short-term gains for Trump at the expense of the structure and mission of the Republican Party as a whole.


The Democratic Party closes ranks

The Democratic Party, in stark contrast with the GOP, has closed ranks and further honed its fundraising strategy. Even Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who had refused to donate to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) in years past, announced this month that she would start donating to the committee. The rift between Ocasio-Cortez and the DCCC was so bad that at one point in 2019, the DCCC blacklisted consultants and vendors associated with Ocasio-Cortez and the “Squad”, a band of Progressive members of Congress that she is a part of. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez told Spectrum


Decline of the Los Angeles County Republican Party

In north Los Angeles County, the local Republican Party is also beginning to show signs of decline. State Senator Scott Wilk, who has long been the leader and chief fundraiser of the local GOP, cannot run for reelection due to term limits. The newly drawn Senate District 23 is much more Democratic than Wilk’s old Senate district. In the 40th Assembly district, where Pilar Schiavo defeated incumbent Republican Suzette Valladares in 2022, is much more Democratic.


In the open California State Senate District 23, Democrat Kipp Mueller has outraised former Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares so far in the campaign. Mueller has raised a total of $1,834,573.91 so far this year, compared to $704,582.04 raised by Valladares. Mueller received the full support of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and the California Democratic Party early, while Valladares did not receive the endorsement of the Los Angeles County Republican Party during her primary. Valladares struggled to fend off a primary challenge from Roger Stone associate D.J. Hamburger without the support of the GOP establishment, hampering her ability to raise money and consolidate support. With the full support of the Democratic Party, Mueller was able to focus on raising money and building his support network.


Incumbent Democratic Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo has vastly outraised her Republican challenger, former sheriff deputy Patrick Gipson. While Schiavo has raised $1,301,231.71 for her reelection bid, Gipson has been able to haul in a mere $127,405.89. In stark contrast to Pilar's grounded approach, Patrick Gipson has embraced the unconventional. A deeply religious man who has spoken openly about hearing divine voices (including that a “prophetess” on television), his fundraising methods are as eccentric as his beliefs. While Pilar has raised funds through conventional sources, such as workers unions, Patrick Gipson stages peculiar events at shooting ranges to raise money, perhaps hoping for a divine spark to ignite his cause.


As we head into the November election, every dollar counts in tight races here in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. Right now, Democrats have a massive fundraising advantage, and Republicans continue to struggle raise the cash they desperately need.