Trump Already Amassing Huge War Chest For 2020 – Challengers Beware

While President Trump is facing murmurs of a primary challenge – as well as a massive field of Democratic candidates jockeying to take him on – the incumbent president enters the 2020 melee with an undeniable advantage: a war chest that would be the envy of any modern president.

Unlike most incumbents, Trump started his re-election bid on day one of his presidency. He filed papers with the Federal Election Commission within hours of being inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2017. Many saw it as a comical – albeit in character – step for the audacious Trump. Yet, by doing so he was able to raise huge sums of money four years before the election.

According to recent FEC data, the Trump campaign has raised over $67 million from 2017 to 2018, with nearly $20 million on hand. Combined with the hauls from two major joint fundraising groups – Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee – the president has raised over $130 million as of the end of 2018, with over $35 million on hand.

By contrast, former President Barack Obama had raised only $4 million in the first two years of his presidency and didn’t file for re-election until April 2011. Former President George W. Bush had raised $3 million by the end of his second year in office and filed for re-election in May 2003.

Despite the fundraising totals, the president still faces serious election challenges. His approval rating has remained stagnant in the mid-40s, with the latest Fox News poll showing him at 46 percent. The 2018 midterms had historically high participation and enthusiasm on the Democratic side, which helped the party flip the House.

These vulnerabilities have led some Republicans to think there’s room for a primary challenge. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has done several interviews insinuating that he’s interested in a run.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, meanwhile, has already formed an exploratory committee, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said that Republicans deserve “a choice” in 2020.

But Trump’s cash would stand as a sizeable deterrent to any Republican hoping to start a primary bid from scratch – while going up against not only his war chest but the GOP establishment.

Analysts say while there are obvious vulnerabilities for Trump, particularly if Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team concludes their investigation with incriminating evidence, they do not see a clear way forward for a primary challenger.

Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist who also chairs the conservative CivicForumPac, said the party is committed to win and they see Trump as their path to victory.

“There are two chances that Trump won’t be the nominee -- and they are slim and none and slim has already left town,” said O’Connell.

Democrats, of course, hope none of this dissuades primary challengers from jumping in.

Read more from Sally Persons at Fox News

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Analysis & Political Strategy