Outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy are set to team up for a series of fundraising events throughout the summer, a move that could buttress McCarthy's bid for leadership of House Republicans after Ryan's retirement.
The arrangement, first reported by The Washington Post, will see Ryan and McCarthy headline fundraisers for the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by House GOP leadership, and Protect the House, a joint fundraising committee between McCarthy, Vice President Mike Pence, and dozens of other House Republicans.
Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy will team up for a series of fundraising events over the next couple of months
The arrangement is likely to stoke speculation about McCarthy's leadership bid after Paul Ryan retires at the end of his term
Ryan and McCarthy will appear at CLF events in Illinois, New York, DC (twice), Pennsylvania and Texas over the next two months, the group's spokesperson Courtney Alexander told CNN. The duo will also appear at Protect the House events in Florida, DC and Texas over the same time frame, according to Ryan spokesman Jeremy Adler.
McCarthy is among the top contenders to lead House Republicans after Ryan, who announced his plans for retirement in mid-April, though the California Republican faces several other GOP House members who've positioned themselves to also seek the top spot such as Majority Whip Steve Scalise and conservative House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan of Ohio.
The decision to fundraise jointly with Ryan -- coupled with Ryan's apparent endorsement of McCarthy last month -- is likely to further cement McCarthy's favorite status, particularly among the party's most influential donors.
The stretch will also be a crucial test for House Republicans as they attempt to transition leadership in what looks to be a punishing election cycle. House Democrats outraised their top Republican challenger in the majority of CNN's key House races in the first fundraising quarter of 2018, underscoring the GOP's challenge.
McCarthy also has some big shoes to fill -- Ryan has been a prolific fundraiser for House Republicans in his time as speaker. In the 2018 cycle alone, Ryan has raised over $54 million -- with over $11 million of that in the first quarter -- and transferred over $40 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee.
CLF, meanwhile, is set to be among Republicans' top assets in the brewing fight. The group has raised over $40 million in the 2018 cycle so far and spent over $18 million while engaging in some of the high-profile special elections that have occurred in places like Georgia, Montana, Pennsylvania and Arizona. The group has said it plans to raise over $100 million for the 2018 midterms.
Protect the House, the joint fundraising agreement formed in February of this year, is also poised to be a fundraising force -- the committee raised over $5 million in the first quarter of 2018 and has over $10 million in cash on hand.
Ryan insists he will remain as Speaker through the end of his term, repeatedly saying he plans to "run through the tape." That decision, however, adds a level of urgency to his joint fundraising sprint with McCarthy, who will lose his shot at the speakership if Republicans are unable to hold their majority in the House.