After more than a year of unfailing loyalty to Donald Trump’s agenda, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) is cashing in. Literally.
First reported by Politico, Vice President Mike Pence’s PAC, Great America Committee, recently sent campaign checks to a list of 37 Republican candidates, “including some of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House.” Knight was on the list of recipients.
Given Knight’s loyalty to the Trump agenda, including support of the deeply unpopular Republican tax bill, it’s not surprising he received the campaign cash.
Florida’s Rep. Carlos Curbelo is a Republican who, like Knight, sits in a district that supported Hillary Clinton.
Unlike Knight, Curbelo has spoken out strongly against Trump. During the 2016 campaign, Curbelo “accused Trump of flirting with ‘fascism’ and never backed away from his criticisms of the president’s rhetoric, especially over immigration and climate change,” according to Politico.
Knight, who has meekly bent his knee to Trump’s demands, is getting a check from Pence. Curbelo, who spoke out against Trump, is not.
According to Politico, “One top Miami Republican joked that Pence probably coordinated the contribution snub with Curbelo ‘because the more it looks like Trump doesn’t like Carlos, the better it is for us in that district.'”
Knight’s affinity for Trump and the Trump agenda is impossible to miss.
Voters in each district are noticing too. While only 28 percent of Curbelo’s district holds an unfavorable opinion of him, almost twice as many voters in Knight’s district (53 percent) disapprove of his job performance in Congress. In fact, 56 percent of likely voters in Knight’s district are disinclined to re-elect the congressman for another term come November.
Given Knight’s unpopularity, he needs all the campaign cash he can get. Even more so, considering his lackluster ability to raise his own funds.
In the last quarter of 2017, Democratic challenger Katie Hill raised more than Knight, even though incumbents typically raise more than challengers. Over the course of last year, Democratic challengers as a whole raised $700,000 more than Knight.
Weak fundraising may be related to Knight’s support for Trump. After winning a close election in a district that Hillary Clinton carried by 7 points in 2016, Knight spent the entire year kowtowing to every one of Trump’s whims. If there was a major piece of legislation that Trump supported, Knight supported it no matter what his constituents wanted.
Constituents are adamantly against efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), yet Knight voted repeatedly to dismantle it. Knights efforts to change the health care law are leading to painful consequences.
Next year, health insurance premiums are estimated to increase by up to 30 percent, in large part because of changes to the ACA that Knight supported. Additionally, those changes will result in an estimated 31,600 people in Knight’s own district losing health insurance.
Knight also supported the Republican tax bill, which will increase taxes for working class Californians while showering tax cuts to the top one percent. Well over half of voters in Knight’s district opposed the measure, joining California business leaders and higher education professionals, yet Knight still joined fellow California Republicans to give the bill enough votes to become law.
Knight is currently California’s most vulnerable lawmaker, which is not a surprise given his voting record. While his votes in Congress may endear him to Trump, Pence, and Republican lobbyists in Washington, D.C., his constituents in California are deeply unhappy.
No matter how much money his team pours in, Trump may have to find a new lackey after November.