Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election campaign pulled in $1.1 million in the first quarter of 2022. That’s a record for any quarter for the eight-term incumbent, and a sign of the Longboat Key Republican’s growing clout.
To date, Buchanan has raised $2.8 million during the 2022 election cycle.
“We’re humbled by the extraordinary support for Vern’s pro-growth agenda of lower taxes, fewer regulations and a focus on restoring the American Dream,” campaign spokesman Max Goodman said. “Vern’s supporters know that he will bring a conservative businessman’s background to the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee.”
Importantly, the money was raised solely through outside donations as opposed to personal loans from Buchanan, the wealthiest member of Florida’s U.S. House delegation.
In December, Buchanan moved into front-runner status to become the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Kevin Brady, currently the ranking Republican on the panel, already announced he won’t seek re-election. The only other Republican on the panel with seniority over Buchanan was Devin Nunes, who resigned his seat in the House to manage former President Donald Trump’s Truth Social platform.
Buchanan now serves as the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. But if Republicans take the majority in the next House, he most likely becomes Chair of the full committee.
That appears to be driving the influx of dollars to Buchanan’s campaign. “There is no coincidence,” Goodman said.
Indeed, the highest amount ever raised in a single quarter by Buchanan up until now appears to be the nearly $600,000 raised in the second quarter last year. Buchanan at that point announced he would run for Ways and Means Chair, but Nunez at the time appeared to be the lead candidate for the job.
What’s more remarkable is that Buchanan doesn’t appear to be in a highly competitive race this cycle, as he has been in the past. He won his seat in the House in 2006 after defeating democrat Christine Jennings by just 369 votes out of 240,000 cast. He has since faced other challenges, most recently from nationally backed Democrat Margaret Good in 2020, but he defeated her by more than 11 percentage points.
This year, he faces Democrat Jan Schneider, whom he has faced before and beat handily. A seemingly heated Primary was unfolding last year with Sarasota Republican activist Martin Hyde, but Hyde appeared to largely wind down his campaign (though not completely) after a scandalous traffic stop in February.
Beyond his own fundraising success, Buchanan has also worked to raise more for national Republican efforts to retake the House. He hosted a fundraiser at his home last month that brought in $1.2 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Buchanan personally has pulled in more than $1.3 million for the NRCC alone.
At the event, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy credited Buchanan as a team player. In addition to saying the Ways and Means post was Buchanan’s to lose, he praised Buchanan for helping Republicans across the country win even in years when he had spirited challenges at home.
“That’s leadership,” said McCarthy, who was elected to the House in the same 2006 class as Buchanan.
Buchanan can also direct resources from his campaign to more competitive races around the country. Federal campaign laws allow him to send $2,000 to candidates for use in Primaries and another $2,000 for General Election battles. The whopping war chest will allow Buchanan to help defend at-risk seats held by the GOP — such as Miami seats held by Republican Reps. Carlos Giménez and María Elvira Salazar — or to flip battleground seats now held by Democrats, like Central Florida seats held by retiring Democratic Reps. Charlie Crist and Stephanie Murphy.
Buchanan currently represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District, but Florida’s congressional redistricting process has not yet concluded, leaving his new territory for the 2022 cycle unclear.