Retiring House Speaker Paul Ryan will host a series of private fundraisers throughout North Carolina early next week, hoping to help Republicans keep their majority in the House in November's mid-term elections and, in one case, heal wounds over a divisive GOP primary.
Ryan's visit is to "raise resources for House Republicans and help the party ahead of the midterms," according to a spokesman for Team Ryan, his personal political operation.
Former Charlotte Pastor Mark Harris, who defeated incumbent House Rep. Robert Pittenger in the GOP primary on May 8, will attend the Ryan fundraiser in Charlotte, said Andy Yates, Harris’ campaign consultant.
His attendance will signal a coalescing of Harris’ campaign with the Republican political establishment that largely backed Pittenger, a three-term incumbent, Yates said.
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"I think it shows that the party at a national level is united behind Pastor Harris, is excited that he’s on the ballot, and looking forward to doing whatever they can to help with his election this fall," Yates said. "Speaker Ryan being here shows that this is an important district for the national party and that the party is unified behind Dr. Harris and wants to see him be successful this fall."
Ryan's political action committee, Prosperity Action, donated $5,000 to Pittenger in January. Pittenger said he wanted Harris to apologize for his attack ads before endorsing him in the November general election against Democrat Dan McCready. But on Tuesday evening, Pittenger said he does endorse Harris and that he has supported him since conceding.
"One thing I do know is that Nancy Pelosi must not become Speaker, which is why Mark Harris has my full endorsement and support as we work with President Trump to make America great again," Pittenger said in a statement.
Harris’ campaign has raised more than $572,566, according to the latest Federal Election Commission filings. He received no contributions from political party committees and only $6,000 from other political action committees.
Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and 2012 GOP nominee for vice president, announced earlier this year that he will not seek re-election in November, but intends to remain in his post as House speaker through the elections.
Republicans are trying to buck the historical trend of midterm elections favoring the party not in the White House. Democrats need to flip 24 Republican-held seats to take control of the House of Representatives.
Ryan raised an off-year record $44 million in 2017 and transferred $32 million to the National Republican Campaign Committee in January. Ryan, through Prosperity Action, gave $5,000 to 143 GOP members in January for their 2018 re-election bids. In addition to Pittenger, Prosperity Action donated to North Carolina Republican Reps. George Holding, Virginia Foxx, Mark Walker, David Rouzer, Richard Hudson and Patrick McHenry at that time.
The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Ryan-aligned Super PAC, has raised more than $42 million this campaign cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records. It has spent about $18.5 million so far. The CLF announced in April that it would advertise digitally in support of Rep. Ted Budd, a Davie County Republican, who faces Democrat Kathy Manning of Greensboro in November. Prosperity Action donated $5,000 to Budd in March.
Ryan is expected to be in Winston-Salem on June 3, in Raleigh and Charlotte on June 4, and in Wilmington for a morning event on June 5.