WASHINGTON — As policymakers begin to debate reopening the country’s schools and shuttered businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic, one California Republican apparently is hopeful he’ll be sipping wine with political donors by the end of May.
A PAC controlled by Rep. Devin Nunes, who serves as the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, sent an email Wednesday reminding would-be contributors of his “Napa Wine Tour” fundraising event planned for May 26 to 28.
“While things are pretty unusual right now, Rep. Nunes is still optimistic about his Napa wine tasting trip at the end of May,” campaign fundraiser Katherine Lewis wrote in an email to donors that was obtained by CQ Roll Call. She did not respond to an email seeking additional information.
The county of Napa has put a shelter-at-home order in place through May 3, said Teresa Wall, senior director of marketing communications for the Napa Valley Vintners, a trade association for winemakers there.
“We don’t have any information beyond that,” Wall added in an email.
The planned fundraising event is to benefit Nunes’ political action committee, called New PAC.
“This trip is exclusively for New PAC Max members,” the invitation states, noting a $5,000 annual contribution per political action committee or $2,800 contribution per individual.
The event would feature Rep. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican, as a “special guest,” according to the invitation. A spokesperson for Hudson did not respond to an email seeking comment.
In mid-March, as many of the nation’s schools and businesses began to close or impose new distancing restrictions, Nunes said on Fox News that healthy people should continue to patronize restaurants and pubs.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee listed Nunes as an initial 2020 target, but the district in the Central Valley is an uphill climb for a Democrat. Trump won the 22nd District by 9 percentage points in 2016. Nunes won reelection in 2018 by 5 points despite facing a well-funded challenger.
Democratic financial adviser Phil Arballo advanced past the state’s March 3 primary to take on Nunes in November. But Nunes has a significant financial advantage. At the end of 2018, Nunes’ campaign had $7.7 million on hand, while Arballo had $241,000. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Republican.
(Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.)
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