There is no doubt that the radical left outraised the right in campaign contributions during the 2020 election cycle. More than $1.5 billion was raised and spent to get Joe Biden elected and tens of millions of dollars more were raised by so-called “dark money” groups.
Dark money groups raise cash where the source of the money is not disclosed. Certain non-profit groups are not required by law to disclose their donor lists. The left became incredibly adept at creating networks where dark money would flow to candidates and causes.
The irony, of course, is that all the while Democrats were berating Republicans for raising and spending dark money, they were outraising and outspending their opponents by a wide margin.
Now, a group of conservative donors — many are veterans of the Trump campaigns for president — have banded together to try and counter the massive influx of left-wing cash into the system. They call themselves the Rockbridge Network and their goal is to reshape the right outside the Republican Party machinery.
The emergence of Rockbridge, the existence of which has not previously been reported, comes amid escalating jockeying among conservative megadonors to shape the 2022 midterms and the future of the Republican Party from outside the formal party machinery, and often with little disclosure.
In February, another previously unreported coalition of donors, the Chestnut Street Council, organized by the Trump-allied lobbyist Matt Schlapp, held a meeting to hear a pitch for new models for funding the conservative movement.
If those upstart coalitions gain momentum, they will likely have to vie for influence among conservatives with existing donor networks that have been skeptical of or agnostic toward Mr. Trump.
This is where the real GOP internal battles will be fought. The immediate question is whether it will hurt or help Republican fortunes in the midterm elections.
Taken together, the jockeying highlights frustration on the right with the political infrastructure that surrounds the Republican Party, and, in some cases, with its politicians, as well as disagreements about its direction as Mr. Trump teases another presidential run.
The efforts to harness the fortunes of the party’s richest activists could help it capitalize on a favorable electoral landscape headed into this year’s midterm elections, and — potentially — the 2024 presidential campaign. Conversely, the party’s prospects could be dimmed if the moneyed class invests in competing candidates, groups and tactics.
An analysis by the Times found that “15 of the most politically active nonprofit organizations that generally align with the Democratic Party spent more than $1.5 billion in 2020 in funds for which the donors’ identities are not disclosed. That compared to roughly $900 million in so-called dark money spent by a comparable sample of 15 groups aligned with Republicans.”
The left has a decided advantage at the moment. Rockbridge and some other groups on the right are hoping to narrow that advantage quickly.