San Francisco Giants owner Charles Johnson is a billionaire with a lot of time on his hands, and he spends it — and his money — supporting the Republican Party. Johnson has given more than $1.7 million to GOP causes in 2020 alone, including donations to 46 candidates.
Who are they? We took a look through the logs of Johnson’s donations at the Center for Responsive Politics’ opensecrets.org portal and found the recipients of the billionaire’s largesse.
Aliscia Andrews (VA-10): Running against Jennifer Wexton, who flipped the seat previously held by Barbara Comstock, Andrews “vows to never vote in ways that infringe upon Second Amendment rights to bear arms, and she supports the Virginia counties that want to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
Leon Benjamin (VA-4): Trying to unseat two-term Rep. Don McEachin, Benjamin’s platform includes some real gibberish, such as his pledge for “Medical Development,” which reads: “We must address the main topics within our health policy: Mental health stigma and funding, Minority and Latino Health opportunities, and Defending the 2nd Amendment as necessary to curtail Violence and Criminal activity within our neighborhoods. Other issues related to health care for all, such as providing an Alternative to the Affordable Care Act, exposing the downfall of initiating Medicare for all, and giving women more options to creating a healthy family as to not having to end the life of the unborn.”
Jim Bognet (PA-8): The district was redrawn before the last election, with Matt Cartwright, the former representative for the 17th district, continuing to represent the Scranton area. Bognet bills himself as having been “blessed to have a good job in President Trump’s administration, fighting to create jobs and rebuild America’s industrial heartland,” but nothing on his website points to any achievements in whatever role he had, nor do any articles about him. His top issue is the “crisis at our southern border,” certainly vital to northeastern Pennsylvania.
Don Bolduc (NH-Sen): The retired general lost the Republican primary to Trump-endorsed Corky Messner, and said, “I will not support a man (in the general election against incumbent Jeanne Shaheen) who is being investigated for fraud by the attorney general. No, I will not support him. I will not disgrace my name to support a man like that.” Trump, naturally, endorsed Messner.
Genevieve Collins (TX-32): According to her website, “Genevieve is one of the most driven, competitive people you will ever meet. She founded the rowing team at her high school and, at the University of Tennessee, she crushed the Ivy League teams in the NCAA Championships, placing 5th in the nation — even with two dislocated ribs.” Obviously, this is just a gratuitous opportunity to show some anti-intellectual bona fides by bashing coastal elite schools like the ones that produced Donald Trump (Penn), Ted Cruz (Princeton), and Brett Kavanaugh (Yale), but it’s no less hilarious that somebody from the SEC is boasting about besting the Ivy League in sports. Colin Allred represents the Dallas-area district after unseating 11-term Republican Pete Sessions in 2018.
Joe Collins (CA-43): This is Maxine Waters’ district. Waters got 78 percent of the vote in the “jungle primary” in March, while Collins clocked in at 11 percent. Johnson gets to say that he’s supporting a Black guy. Whatever.
John Cummings (NY-14): This is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s district and won’t be competitive. Johnson is spending here purely for spite.
Steve Daines (MT-Sen): Here’s what Daines had to say about Donald Trump’s handling of coronavirus, literally last week as the death toll approached 200,000: “That kind of leadership saved a lot of American lives.” Montana’s governor, Steve Bullock, is running to unseat Daines.
Joni Ernst (IA-Sen): Facing a stiff challenge from Theresa Greenfield for her seat, Ernst said in September that “They’re thinking there may be 10,000 or less deaths that were actually singularly COVID-19. … I’m just really curious. It would be interesting to know that.” She was parroting Trump, who was repeating a QAnon theory about coronavirus being a hoax and doctors inflating statistics to get more money. Iowa’s meatpacking industry has been particularly hard hit by the virus.
Michelle Fischbach (MN-7): The former Minnesota lieutenant governor is running against Collin Peterson, who’s held the seat for 30 years but squeaked out a four-point win against Dave Hughes in the last election. The district is shifting, as Trump carried it 62-31 in 2016, so the Republican establishment feels it has a shot with Fischbach, who touts herself as “a new voice for western Minnesota,” despite having spent 22 years as a state senator before she was lieutenant governor. Her top issue? Guns. “We must defend our God-given right to keep and bear arms,” she says. “The United States Constitution is unambiguous: our right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Of course, it’s not a God-given right, it’s a Constitution-given right, and from an amendment, not the original document… and also Fischbach naturally leaves out the preceding portion of the amendment about “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the Security of a free State.”
Mike Garcia (CA-25): Garcia, who ripped off Top Gun for his campaign logo, won the special election after Katie Hill’s resignation, so the former Raytheon executive has been in Congress since May. Christy Smith is running against Garcia, who says he “will work every day to prevent our nation from becoming as dysfunctional as the State of California.” Buddy, have you seen our nation lately?
Carmelita Greco (MI-11): Despite Johnson’s support, Greco lost the Republican primary in August to Eric Esshaki in the Detroit-area district where Haley Stevens won an open seat that had previously been held by Republicans in 2018. Stevens has the endorsement of the traditionally conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, while the Michigan Chamber does not plan to endorse either candidate. A good note here is that the president of the Michigan Chamber is named Rich Studley.
Bill Hagerty (TN-Sen): Trump’s former ambassador to Japan is running to succeed the retiring Lamar Alexander. He’s called for Trump “to use the Insurrection Act to mobilize active-duty military forces in order to defend our communities from further acts of domestic terrorism.” Because apparently the police murdering citizens isn’t enough. Hagerty’s opponent, Marquita Bradshaw, is the first Black woman to earn a major-party nomination for Senate in Tennessee and a supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Karen Handel (GA-6): Handel is running to reclaim her old seat after losing it to Lucy McBath two years ago. Handel’s reaction to Breonna Taylor’s killers not being charged for her death was to criticize Atlanta protestors for calling cops “pigs.”
Yvette Herrell (NM-2): Herrell lost the 2018 race for an open seat by less than 4,000 votes to Xochitl Torres Small, and now the rematch is on. Herrell, a former New Mexico state representative, says on her website that she “will continue to be a leader in Congress, always putting New Mexico first. This is one of many reasons Yvette is endorsed by the Freedom Caucus, Representatives Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and Andy Biggs.” Those guys are from Ohio, North Carolina, and Arizona.
Wesley Hunt (TX-7): In 2018, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher beat Republican incumbent John Culberson to win this Houston seat, and Hunt’s top issue in trying to win back the district for the GOP is “Defeating the Green New Deal and defending Houston’s Energy Jobs.” He then lists “Lowering Taxes” and “Securing our Southern Border” before “Preventing Future Flooding.” Let’s just take a moment to think about that one in contrast with the first one.
Jeanne Ives (IL-6): Following an unsuccessful run for the Republican nomination for Illinois governor, Ives set her sights on this formerly reliably Republican district in the Chicago area, flipped by Sean Casten in 2018. “The highest priority is to restore the rule of law throughout the nation and Illinois,” she says. “The first responsibility for government is to secure the peace and the constitutional rights of her people. There cannot be job and business growth without law and order restored.” That is one loud dog whistle.
Darrell Issa (CA-50): After not seeking re-election in California’s 49th district in 2018, Issa is trying to return to Congress in the seat vacated by Duncan Hunter, who was so corrupt that he managed to get sent to prison. Running against Ammar Campa-Najjar, Issa finished second in the spring “jungle primary,” but Republican candidates got a majority of the votes in the San Diego-area district.
Sean Jackson (FL-7): Jackson did not get the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Stephanie Murphy in the Orlando suburbs. The nod went to Leo Valentin, who wants to “Preserve Law & Order,” something that the TV syndication industry already has done.
Young Kim (CA-39): Kim lost to Democrat Gil Cisneros by less than 8,000 votes when this was an open seat in 2018. In the primary this March, Kim edged Cisneros by 2,539 votes, with neither getting a majority as independent Steve Cox got 8,286 votes. Her policy positions are the blandest thing you’ve ever seen, which is what happens when you’re a Republican who avoids mentioning Donald Trump.
Tyler Kistner (MN-2): The death of Legal Marijuana Now Party candidate Adam Weeks means that there will be a special election in February, as Minnesota law dictates that happen when a major party candidate dies within 79 days of the election, and the Legal Marijuana Now Party gained major-party status in Minnesota by getting more than 5% of the vote in 2018. Kistner, challenging Rep. Angie Craig, says of guns, “It’s not about hunting or even self-defense. It’s a constitutional right. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This guy was in the Marines, so you’d think he’d know about the “well regulated Militia” part of the 2nd Amendment, but…
Kimberly Klacik (MD-7): Klacik, who doesn’t live in the district but has said she’d move there if elected, got what might be considered a boost by having a campaign ad retweeted by Eric Trump. Problem is, the ad referred to the city of “BALITIMORE.” Kweisi Mfume has represented the district since winning a special election this year to replace the late Elijah Cummings.
Esther Joy King (IL-17): Cheri Bustos was elected to this seat in 2012 and beat her last challenger, Bill Fawell, 62-38. “It is important to say we support law enforcement because the law enforcement do so much to keep our community safe,” King said last week at a “Back The Blue” rally.
Jason Lewis (MN-Sen): Lewis is challenging Tina Smith, who won a special election two years ago after Al Franken’s resignation. Unseated by Angie Craig in the House in 2018, Lewis crows that he “was honored to help pass historic tax cuts and regulatory reform to improve the nation’s economy and spur jobs and wages.” He got into politics because he was angry about not being able to squeeze the government for more money when his family auto parts business had a warehouse that was “targeted for a highway project under the power of eminent domain. After negotiations with government agencies failed to produce a price the family thought adequate for rebuilding, Jason faced the difficult decision of closing a profitable business and eliminating a substantial number of jobs.” As if that was the only choice. Please.
Mike LiPetri (NY-2): The race in Suffolk County to replace Peter King is now between Democrat Jackie Gordon and Republican Andrew Garbarino, who beat LiPetri in the primary.
Anna Paulina Luna (FL-13): Another member of the club of veteran candidates who crib from “Top Gun” for their campaign logo, Luna has several universally agreeable platform positions and precisely zero explanation of how she’d get any of them accomplished. She’s a “pro-Trump conservative,” though, so that’s enough to get Johnson’s support against former Florida governor Charlie Crist, the incumbent here.
Nancy Mace (SC-1): This seat flipped two years ago when Joe Cunningham beat Katie Arrington, who had successfully primaried Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford. Mace makes a very reasonable point about South Carolina allowing evictions and foreclosures to continue during a pandemic, and about the importance of infrastructure like the Wando Bridge in Charleston. Her immigration platform doesn’t mention Trump’s wall. She’s against abortion, but writes, “This is a deeply personal issue for me. As a survivor of sexual assault, I understand the hardships women face, physically and emotionally, not just immediately following this kind of trauma, but the pain we endure for the decades following. I understand what it’s like to be attacked, to be bullied and harassed after coming forward and I will not tolerate this kind of behavior, I will fight to protect victims of rape and incest.” She worked for the Trump campaign, and clearly would align her votes with the Republican agenda, but the way she presents herself — her big spotlight moment with Trump was stopping offshore drilling! — is bizarrely not Trumpy.
Amanda Makki (FL-13): Makki lost the Republican primary to Anna Paulina Luna… Johnson must really not like Charlie Crist.
Jim Marchant (NV-4): The central Nevada district flipped from red to blue in 2016 when Ruben Kihuen unseated Cresent Hardy, and Steven Horsford retained the seat for the Democrats as Hardy sought to reclaim it in 2018. Marchant is running on a very OANN kind of platform, with his campaign promise to HOLD CHINA ACCOUNTABLE because “The People’s Republic of China is largely responsible for the devastation of the coronavirus, their cover up slowed the world’s response and cost countless lives.” Marchant needs to get it straight. It’s not China’s fault, it’s Bob Woodward’s.
Brian Maryott (CA-49): Maryott lost the primary to incumbent Mike Levin by 13 points in March. They were the only two candidates, so the general election is just them again. There’s something about ethics and emails happening here, so that’s fun, isn’t it?
John McGuire (VA-7): McGuire was a Republican hopeful for the seat held by Abigail Spanberger, but lost at the Republican state convention to Nick Freitas.
Martha McSally (AZ-Sen): The people of Arizona said that they didn’t want McSally in the Senate when they elected Krysten Sinema in 2018, but after John McCain’s death, Gov. Doug Ducey sent John Kyl to the Senate, and when Kyl resigned, Ducey appointed McSally. Now, McSally has to defend the seat against former astronaut Mark Kelly. The Arizona Republic, historically a conservative paper, has featured multiple op-eds recently ripping McSally as “a sheep” who is “determined to crash and burn.”
Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-2): After unsuccessfully challenging Dave Loebsack in 2008, 2010, and 2014, Miller-Meeks is back to try her luck with this as an open seat, running against Democrat Rita Hart, a former Iowa state senator. The campaign has featured some weird ads where Hart is attacked for voting for a Republican-sponsored bill, and for enhancing the pandemic with her vote against a 2018 state budget that the Quad City Times reported “contained $4.1 million for Iowa State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.”
Jim Oberweis (IL-14): Oberweis ran for this seat before, losing to Bill Foster in an open 2008 race. Foster lost two years later to Republican Randy Hultgren, who held the seat until he was defeated two years ago by Lauren Underwood. On his website, Oberweis highlights that he is “FIGHTING FOR YOUR PRIORITIES.” Top of the list? SOCIALISM. Cool! Very out of step with the GOP mainstrea—wait, no, he’s against it. “Jim knows the inherent dangers of adopting socialist ideas - from wealth redistribution schemes to job-killing tax plans.” Uh… sure.
Sean Parnell (PA-17): Conor Lamb won the election here in 2018, after redistricting. Parnell’s website says, “While the radical left is tearing down statues of George Washington, taking over city blocks, and trying to change our National Anthem, I will always fight to defend the country I love.” Sorry about the statue of a slave owner who’s been dead for two centuries, and going into the streets to protest police brutality, and taking issue with an anthem drawn from a poem tinged with racism. Mostly, sorry that you care about those things more than the reasons people are protesting.
Dan Rodimer (NV-3): A former pro wrestler and arena football player who was once arrested for fighting at a Waffle House and had to complete an anger management course to get the charge dropped, Rodimer promises, “we’ll take a folding chair right to the establishment.” His platform is boilerplate Trump/GOP shtick, so here’s Trump taking a Stone Cold Stunner from Steve Austin.
Lisa Scheller (PA-7): Susan Wild won this seat north of Philadelphia in 2018, and Scheller is scared of that great metropolis, writing, “Sanctuary cities like Philadelphia endanger our country. In Congress, I will support policies that stop federal funding for any sanctuary city that is flouting the rule of law. We must let law enforcement at all levels work together to enforce our laws and protect our citizens. You can count on me to work with President Trump to end Sanctuary cities!” She’s also against the Green New deal because it “would require America to have 100% clean and renewable energy” and “your electric bill would skyrocket.” That’s certainly one reason to continue to trash the planet.
Tim Scott (SC-Sen): Scott isn’t up for election until 2022. He’s Black, so maybe this is another example of Johnson trying to spend his way past that whole Black Americans For The President’s Agenda thing. Or maybe he just got confused and forgot about Lindsey Graham, who’s flailing in his re-election bid.
Alek Skarlatos (OR-4): Southwest Oregon has sent Peter DeFazio to Congress every two years since 1986, and the elections have rarely been anywhere near close. Skarlatos is a legitimate real-life hero who helped thwart a terrorist attack on a train in Europe. But his politics kind of suck, not just on guns and a border wall, but with his belief that “due to mismanagement and lack of federal timber harvesting minimums, forest fires are worsening every year.” Sure, if you cut down more trees, they won’t burn, but that’s not really why there are more forest fires, and Skarlatos’ platform doesn’t address climate change at all.
Doug Slocum (MI-10): The retired Air Force general finished a distant third in the Republican primary for an open-seat race north of Detroit that pits Democrat Kimberly Bizon against Republican Lisa McClain in a deep red district. McClain is “absolutely opposed to any government-mandated vaccinations that are against an individual’s religious, philosophical or medical beliefs; including parents’ rights to choose all, or no, vaccinations for their children. Vaccines are, in some opinions, one of the most important tools in preventive medicine, and there is a lot of talk about them given our current situation with COVID.” What the hell are a person’s “medical beliefs?” That’s not a thing. You don’t just have “medical beliefs.” Religion is one thing, and dubious for refusing vaccinations when we live in a society, but “medical beliefs” is just inviting people to make up their own science. This isn’t even who Johnson gave money to, but good gravy, that’s bonkers.
Sandy Smith (NC-1): Smith, running against incumbent G.K. Butterfield, clearly has not used Johnson’s money to update her website, which claims, “Thanks to President Trump and his pro-business policies, the American economy is booming again. Today, we have a 3% GDP growth rate and the lowest unemployment in over 50 years. I am proud to stand with the Trump administration’s economic agenda of reduced regulations and free markets.” Oops.
Carla Spalding (FL-23): Just as mind-boggling as a Black immigrant single mother being a Republican, given the party’s behavior for the past several decades, is that Spalding is labeling Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “anti-Israel.” There’s a lot of ways that someone could go after Debbie Wasserman Schultz! That isn’t one.
Michelle Steel (CA-48): Two years after Harley Rouda unseated Dana Rohrabacher, Steel is his first challenger. Rouda won the primary, but with only 46.7% of the vote while all of the other candidates were Republicans. Steel says “national security necessitates competent border security, and I support a physical barrier to protect our homeland from human traffickers, gangs, and drug smugglers.” Not that a wall along the Mexican border would stop any of those things. She also is angry about California having high taxes, which is not an issue that has anything to do with Congress. And as someone who wants “science-based policies to ensure our beaches and bays are clean,” what is she doing in the Republican Party?
David Valadao (CA-21): Valadao is trying to get his seat back after TJ Cox beat him by 862 votes in 2018. After not backing Trump four years ago, he is now, which… uh… okay, sure. He voted with Trump 97.9% of the time when he was in Congress, so why bother pretending otherwise?
David Young (IA-3): Young is trying to reclaim his seat from Cindy Axne, who beat him by a little less than 8,000 votes in 2018. On healthcare, Young says, “our doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers spend more time filling out government paperwork and dealing with insurance companies than they do with what they ventured into the field for — to help people and try to improve their health and lives.” His solution? “Iowans have a right to pursue options and have choice with their healthcare coverage and providers. Choice come (sic) from a marketplace. A marketplace brings price transparency. Price transparency brings competitive pricing. And overall, this competition brings quality, affordable, and accessible healthcare.” Except… it doesn’t? And people don’t really want “choice” of insurance? They just want to have their health taken care of and not have to worry about going bankrupt because someone in the family gets cancer. The idea that healthcare needs to be a for-profit industry… well, that’s why Young’s a Republican, isn’t it?
Maybe if Johnson had put more money into his baseball team instead of investing in this bunch of scrubs, the Giants would be better than sitting at .500 and on the bubble entering the final weekend of a season shortened by a pandemic that raged out of control in America due to the catastrophic failure of the president and the party that Johnson so avidly supports.