Unlike most of the speaker’s previous political travel — which focused on closed-door fundraisers — Ryan’s appearances will include many public events with Republicans who are facing difficult reelection prospects.
The whirlwind trek comes as Ryan, 46, the father of three school-age children, has defied even his own prediction that he would not be the same type of voracious fundraiser as his predecessor, John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), who retired last October. In just 11 months since taking the speaker’s gavel, Ryan has raised more money than Boehner did in any two-year election cycle for the benefit of House Republicans, according to Ryan’s political team.
“Team Ryan” — the umbrella committee that runs all of the speaker’s political entities — has transferred more than $30 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee since its inception in late October 2015. The most money that “Team Boehner” transferred to the NRCC came in 2011 and 2012, with about $21 million shifted to the GOP’s campaign arm.
This has kept Republicans in a better financial position than in recent elections. The NRCC entered September with more than $65 million cash on hand, about $20 million more than at that stage of the 2014 campaign.
Its counterpart, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, had more than $63 million to start last month following several enormous fundraising months once Donald J. Trump became the de facto Republican presidential nominee.
Ryan’s political prowess has come in part from being his party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, introducing him to a vast array of wealthy conservative donors with strong ties to Mitt Romney and the Bush family. In addition, he’s benefited from many of those big donors abstaining from financially supporting Trump this year and instead focusing on protecting the House as well as the Senate majority.
“It’s been a wild election year, but Paul Ryan has been the steady hand – leading the conference and our members right up through Election Day,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chairman of the NRCC, said in a statement.
With 247 Republican seats heading into November, Ryan can afford to lose up to 29 seats and retain the majority. Democrats have made a late push to put as many seats as possible into contention, particularly in suburban areas where Trump is not popular and could serve as a drag on down-ballot races.
However, so far, Trump has not hurt Republicans as much as Democrats once hoped. The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan analyst, rates 202 Republican seats as completely safe, meaning the GOP needs to win just 16 of the remaining 45 races to keep the speaker’s gavel in Ryan’s hands.
While most swing-seat Republicans are hiding from Trump on the campaign trail, Ryan is in high demand. He will even make campaign stops on behalf of several senators running for reelection with whom he once served in the House: Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.).
Ryan’s pre-election tour will kick off with events in his home state of Wisconsin, on behalf of Sen. Ron Johnson and Mike Gallagher, the GOP nominee to succeed retiring Rep. Reid Ribble (R) in the northeast corner of the Badger State.
Ryan is campaigning for two members of the House’s most conservative bloc — Reps. Rob Blum (R-Iowa) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.), both of whom refused to vote for Boehner during the 2015 roll call to elect the speaker. He is also helping out more moderate members, including Reps. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.) and Will Hurd (Texas), neither of whom has endorsed Trump’s candidacy.