Former President Donald Trump made an appearance at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, delighting fans in the red state.
Trump was seen on video at the event with Kimberly Guilfoyle, partner of his eldest son, Don Jr. It was not immediately clear if Trump Jr or any other family member was also at the Derby.
Saturday’s Derby was held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, where unlikely entrant Rich Strike won the most famous of Triple Crown races. The state’s Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, as well as Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps attended.
Trump’s visit to Kentucky this weekend served more than one purpose as he works to solidify his control over the Republican Party.
His super PAC was hosting a $75,000 per person fundraiser at the event, according to The New York Times, in the territory of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of his main rivals in the Republican Party. Mr. McConnell did not attend the event.
Kentucky is solid Trump territory with Trump winning the state by nearly 30 points over Joe Biden in the 2020 election. Saturday’s Derby was held at the track at Churchill Downs in Louisville where unlikely entrant Rich Strike won. the most famous of the Triple Crown races.
The former president has long taken credit for McConnell’s 2020 victory over Amy McGrath, a well-funded Democratic opponent who nonetheless lost every county in the state to the minority leader in 2020.
Trump also reportedly referred to McConnell as a “dumb son of a p****” at a private meeting for Republican donors last year.
McConnell is expected to retain control of the GOP in the Senate next year if his party wins control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections. His fortune is the complete opposite of that of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is expected to face a challenge for the gavel of president if the GOP controls the House in January. McCarthy has gone out of his way, including in regular conversations with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and on the phone, to remain on the former president’s good side even as he faces a steady trickle of leaks about comments he made about Trump. in the days and hours immediately following the January 6 attack.
Trump’s efforts in the Derby this weekend are part of a campaign to maintain a large war chest that was exceeding the cash-on-hand totals of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) combined, by end of 2021.
While he has shown no signs of stopping his gargantuan fundraiser, Trump has been slow to spend the money he has raised. He has yet to declare a White House bid in 2024, and all signs point to a possible announcement after the November midterm elections.
Most of the Republican candidates who have received his endorsement so far have received little monetary support. The notable exception to this rule is the Georgia primary, where Trump poured half a million into the effort to unseat Governor Brian Kemp for refusing to help the former president nullify the 2020 election.