“On one hand, he made enemies in all 50 states; on the other hand, he put together tremendous national support,” Schnur said of Nunes in a telephone interview.
Nunes’ ties to Trump have meant tough elections before. In 2020, Nunes defeated Democratic challenger Phil Arballo with 54.2% of the vote. Arballo, a small-business owner, is running again in 2022.
In 2018, Nunes beat Democratic opponent Andrew Janz with about 52.7% of the vote, the closest race of his career since Nunes took office in 2003. In 2016, Nunes defeated his opponent by more than 35 percentage points.
Nunes’ campaign filings also show the congressman is trying to build goodwill and support from fellow Republicans by giving generously. He has given the National Republican Congressional Committee, the GOP’s House campaign arm, $698,000 this year. And he’s made contributions to 70 fellow Republicans from his NewPAC fund.
This could help his bid to be selected as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win control of the House next year.
The committee is arguably one of the two most influential House committees alongside the funding-overseeing Appropriations Committee. Ways and Means controls legislation involving taxes, Social Security, trade, health care, insurance, Medicare and more.
In turn, being in line for such a position also draws more money.
“Being a ranking member or committee chair is always a big magnet for donors,” said Andrew Mayersohn, a committee researcher at OpenSecrets.
Even with all the giving, Nunes has been holding onto a lot of cash, shuffling it among his four fundraising committees.
John Pitney, a politics professor at Claremont McKenna College and former deputy director of the Republican National Committee’s research department, said that there are two big reasons Nunes is likely stockpiling: uncertainty over the once-a-decade redistricting underway this year and how his national profile will draw Democratic opponents.
The process of redistricting, or redrawing political boundaries for the areas House members represent, comes up every 10 years after information on where people are residing is collected from the Census. California lost a seat in the House after the 2020 Census determined that fewer people were residing in the state.
“Prospects in 2022 will depend a lot on the shape of the district, which we don’t know yet,” Pitney said. “It should be a little clearer after the recall vote. And if Trump can and decides to run again, that could change support for Nunes.”©2021 McClatchy Washington Bureau. Visit at mcclatchydc.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.