Politics & Government

Devin Nunes’ fundraising is off the charts for 2020. Who’s giving to the congressman? 

Rep. Devin Nunes revved up his fundraising in the second quarter of this year, hauling in far more money than any other incumbent in a district on the opposing party’s top target list for 2020.

Nunes, R-Tulare, raised nearly $1.9 million for the quarter, bringing his total fundraising so far for the year to more than $3 million.

Freshman Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, raised the second most of candidates in targeted races nationwide, with about $1 million this quarter.

Nunes has about $5.6 million in cash on hand, another number that blows most candidates out of the water.

So who is contributing to Nunes’ campaign?

A small portion of Nunes’ donations come from within his district. About 4.3%, or just less than $80,000, came from his constituents this quarter, according to a McClatchy analysis of public Federal Election Commission records.

About twice that amount, around $160,000, came from the Washington, D.C., metro area, mostly from interest groups and and corporate political action committees.

Many of those corporate or company PACs are associated with the health care industry, including pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer.

Broken down by state, California was the largest contributor to Nunes. Californians gave more than $340,000 to Nunes, with about $260,000 coming from outside his Central California district.

Nunes’ name recognition goes far — he received donations from every state in the U.S. this quarter alone, except Iowa.

“These campaigns are aggressive, and he’s become a leader for people who believe in a conspiracy against President (Donald) Trump,” said Mike Lynch, a longtime Democratic political strategist in the San Joaquin Valley. “So his numbers aren’t surprising.”

Nunes’ fundraising chops — as well as his Democratic opponents’ — have risen as he solidified a long-term alliance with Trump starting in 2016.

He appears on Fox News multiple times a week to defend Trump or to criticize mostly unnamed actors within the FBI and Department of Justice that he accuses of working to undermine Trump, which he and others have called the “deep state.”

Also, Nunes is the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and the No. 2 Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. His office did not respond to a request for comment.

About 65% of the people who gave to his campaign describe themselves as “retired.” It’s the top “profession” on his donors list. Fox News’ median viewer age was 65 in 2018, and the nonpartisan Pew Research Center has found cable news is where the majority of people 65 and older in the U.S. get their news.

“He’s been a pit bull on the on deep state stuff, so of course he’s connected with those audiences,” Lynch said.

The flip side of Nunes’ popularity with conservatives is the deep dislike of him on the left and within anti-Trump factions of the right. Nunes has fueled many social media parody accounts, especially after he filed a lawsuit against Twitter and two of the satire accounts in March.

He stopped holding public town halls in the district years ago, and his critics sometimes try to organize protests when they hear he’s holding a fundraiser, telling participants to “moo” at the congressman, since one of the parody Twitter accounts he’s suing is Devin Nunes’ Cow.

That also means there’s a wide swath of donors for Nunes’ opponents, such as the last election cycle when local prosecutor and now mayoral candidate Andrew Janz raised $9 million to challenge the longtime congressman. Janz lost by 5 points, the narrowest margin Nunes has won by since he started running for Congress. Nunes raised $12 million in that cycle.

Phil Arballo, the Democratic candidate in the 2020 cycle endorsed by Janz, has raised the most money of Democratic challengers so far, with about $130,000 in under a month. A breakdown of his donors is not yet available on the FEC website.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also listed Nunes as a target in 2020, the first time he’s made such a list, which will mean more money focused both on ousting and defending him. Nunes has already spent close to $2 million this cycle, eight times as much as he spent in the same time period last cycle.

Kate Irby is based in Washington, D.C. and reports on issues important to McClatchy’s California newspapers, including the Sacramento Bee, Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee. She previously reported on breaking news in D.C., politics in Florida for the Bradenton Herald and politics in Ohio for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.