Can Paul Ryan Be a Rainmaker and Still be Home for Family Dinner?

Colleagues close to Ryan say they aren’t worried about Ryan’s ability to raise cash, but his critics are raising concerns.

Oct. 30, 2015, 5 a.m.

Paul Ry­an was al­most there, but after weeks of Re­pub­lic­ans beg­ging him to step in and solve their messy search for a House speak­er, a nag­ging con­cern could hold him back: Would he, the fath­er of chil­dren aged 10, 12, and 13, be able to handle the job’s in­tense fun­drais­ing sched­ule without neg­lect­ing his fam­ily?

Ma­jor­ity Whip Steve Scal­ise, who ac­cord­ing to this of­fice has raised more than $2.5 mil­lion for his party this year, thought tex­ting Ry­an a photo might con­vince him that he could in­deed do it all.

In the pic­ture, Scal­ise is crouched down. His arms are around his two kids at St. Cath­er­ine’s school back in Louisi­ana. LSU base­ball cap and smile on, Scal­ise is covered in icy-blue silly string as his kids stand proudly dis­play­ing their empty can­is­ters of goo.

He sent it along with a mes­sage: “I’ve been at the kids’ school fair all week­end. You can do this too!”

In the end, Ry­an agreed to the job—and now he’ll find out if Scal­ise was right.

In terms of fun­drais­ing, Ry­an and Re­pub­lic­ans have big shoes to fill. Out­go­ing House Speak­er John Boehner’s de­vo­tion to fun­drais­ing set re­cords. By Ju­ly of this year, Politico re­por­ted that Boehner had already raised $28 mil­lion for the 2016 cycle and the he had held roughly 100 events. Boehner is gen­er­ous with his for­tunes. Ac­cord­ing to an ana­lys­is from the Cen­ter for Re­spons­ive Polit­ics, Boehner has giv­en more money to his col­leagues—$41.1 mil­lion—than any oth­er mem­ber in Con­gress.

Ry­an’s rule was that he was not go­ing to spend every week­end on the road. He was go­ing to be there for his kids back in Wis­con­sin.

And some in the caucus—in­clud­ing some Free­dom Caucus mem­bers who were already on the fence about Ry­an for fear that he was too close to the party es­tab­lish­ment—have ex­pressed con­cern that he won’t be able to fill the party’s cam­paign cof­fers in the same man­ner as his pre­de­cessor.

“As he has pub­licly stated, he is a fath­er. He has young chil­dren. He does not have the time to do the speak­er’s job as it has been done in the past,” Rep. Mo Brooks, a Re­pub­lic­an from Alabama and Free­dom Caucus mem­ber, said last week be­fore Ry­an was elec­ted.

Their gripes with Ry­an’s fam­ily de­mands were just one of the many con­cerns they har­bored about Ry­an as speak­er. The group of roughly 40 con­ser­vat­ives also wor­ried about Ry­an’s po­s­i­tion on im­mig­ra­tion and his his­tory of ne­go­ti­at­ing with Demo­crats on everything from trade to the budget.

But, those close to Ry­an say any con­cerns about a fu­ture fun­drais­ing slump are un­war­ran­ted. Ry­an, after all, was the party’s 2012 vice pres­id­en­tial nom­in­ee and was serving as the power­ful Ways and Means Com­mit­tee chair­man be­fore step­ping up to take the gavel. He’s raised $40 mil­lion for him­self and giv­en about $8 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to the Cen­ter for Re­spons­ive Polit­ics. As a ma­jor fun­draiser for the Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee, his re­la­tion­ships with K Street and big party donors run deep.

“I think if there was any­one who could step in­to the former speak­er’s shoes it is go­ing to be him,” Rep. Frank Lu­cas told Na­tion­al Journ­al. “I know there are con­cerns about how many days of week or how many or hours he com­mits, but like everything else in life, it is not volume, it is qual­ity.”

So what’s Ry­an’s plan to bring in Boehner­loads of money while still spend­ing time with his kids?

Ry­an’s al­lies say he’ll find a way to do more with few­er hours. An avid golfer, Boehner was known to raise money leis­urely. He pre­ferred spend­ing long af­ter­noons on the golf course on a Sat­urday rather than just a two-hour din­ner re­cep­tion. As whip, Scal­ise has made use of his travel days—the Monday and Fri­day when he is of­ten com­mut­ing between Louisi­ana and Wash­ing­ton—to raise money. He can make it to D.C. by way of cit­ies like Hou­s­ton or New York, stop­ping briefly to fun­draise. It is a mod­el that Ry­an, who com­mutes between D.C. and south­ern Wis­con­sin, has also used.

“This was his life, his love, his com­mit­ment. This was his bliss,” said Rep. Cyn­thia Lum­mis, a Re­pub­lic­an from Wyom­ing, about Boehner’s fun­drais­ing style. “I have a feel­ing these guys will al­most be like a young med­ic­al prac­tice where they will be on call. I think they will fall more in­to a ro­ta­tion so all the bur­den is not on the speak­er. “

In re­cent years, the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee has fallen short of the Demo­crat­ic Con­gres­sion­al Cam­paign Com­mit­tee on fun­drais­ing. But Re­pub­lic­ans have still man­aged to se­cure ma­jor ma­jor­it­ies in the House, and Ry­an has prom­ised to fo­cus his fun­drais­ing time on the NR­CC in­stead of the RNC.

Mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­ans have been an­noyed that the Far Right has at­tacked Ry­an on fun­drais­ing at all, giv­en that the NR­CC’s short­com­ings can some­times be traced back to less-gen­er­ous mem­bers who don’t meet their party’s fun­drais­ing dues.

“For good­ness sakes, the guy is bet­ter known than any­one in the House cham­ber, he has demon­strated his fun­drais­ing prowess up here. He was the chair­man of the RNC pres­id­en­tial trust, and look, he prob­ably has the best small-donor name that any­body could have,” said Rep. Tom Cole, who is close to Ry­an and lead­er­ship. “Most of the people com­plain­ing, by the way, are people who don’t raise any money them­selves.”

Even Demo­crats like former DCCC Chair­man Steve Is­rael aren’t pre­dict­ing that Ry­an will come up short on fun­drais­ing—though they’re couch­ing it in a far-less com­pli­ment­ary fash­ion.

“I don’t think Paul Ry­an needs to be out there rais­ing money every week­end for the party. The spe­cial in­terests that he has tried to re­ward by tak­ing $800 bil­lion away from Medi­care will be happy to just sign whatever checks he asks for,” Is­rael said.

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