Campaign finance data for the third quarter was released this weekend and the numbers aren’t looking good — Ron DeSantis is trailing far behind Donald Trump, Mike Pence’s cash-on-hand is dangerously low and Tim Scott somehow has more money than any candidate bar Joe Biden and Trump.
One group is doing great though — the 1776 Project PAC, a conservative activist organization, which raised $683,915 from July to September. They even came out ahead of two 2024 hopefuls, raising more than both GOP candidate Asa Hutchinson and Cornel West, the professor and activist running as an Independent. Cockburn wonders if the fact that a small conservative group is walloping the field will make some candidates realize it’s finally time to drop out of the race.
The 1776 Project PAC is an education reform movement that helped elect 100 “unwoke” school board members last year, according to their Twitter. Even though the group is not in the 2024 race, they are still set to play a role in an election cycle according to their president Ryan Girdusky.
“There are school board elections this November, so we are always in the election cycle,” Girdusky told Cockburn. “People who run for much higher office depend on much wealthier donors, who write large checks. We depend on grassroots. And there is a large disconnect between what grassroots and donors want.”
According to their website, the group “promotes patriotism and pride in American history” in part by abolishing Critical Race Theory and the 1619 Project curriculum from public schools. Among the candidates they would not support is West, a self-described “non-Marxist socialist” and supporter of CRT. Earlier this year, West sponsored an opinion in the Guardian calling to end “anti-woke censorship” in education. If campaign finances are any indicator though, the 1776 Project is winning that war.
Cockburn is not entirely surprised that the 1776 Project has outperformed both West and Hutchinson — neither are particularly serious candidates. The former Arkansas governor barely snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when he qualified for the GOP debate stage in August. After struggling to hit the campaign donation threshold, he brought in 4,000 new donors through a text-for-pay scheme that gave people $20 for every friend, family or colleague that they could get to donate just $1. Among the army of Hutchinson’s new campaigners were hundreds of college-aged students. Where they are now though, nobody knows.