Crypto Advocates Prepare to Battle Washington's Anti-Crypto Army

The blockchain industry is seeking to unseat political incumbents. Here’s how it’s looking.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

US Capitol building with a neon-colored flag, showcasing the Bitcoin logo

For years, crypto has lived on the fringe. But now it wants a piece of the political pie.

Economically, crypto has been expanding its footprint in the mainstream, a trend turbocharged by the spot Bitcoin ETFs. Culturally, memecoins like Dogecoin are household names, whereas others are ready to take over Las Vegas.

But 2024 being an election year in the United States, crypto advocates have their eyes on another state: Washington D.C.

“The 2024 election is the industry's coming out party,” said Cody Carbone, Chief Policy Officer for Digital Chamber, a crypto political advocacy group.

Crypto-friendly candidates are looking to change that.

While crypto cannot be stopped, unfriendly regulators can slow innovation and push adjacent businesses offshore. Conversely, a government and Congress that’s favorable to the industry can place the U.S. at the forefront of the digital economy, driving investment and development.

That’s why there is such an interest this year to win as many congressional spots as possible, and counterbalance the share of political power wielded by the so-called “anti-crypto army,” a group of lawmakers and politicians who have made opposing crypto a key part of their message.

Pro-Crypto Politicians

From Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), to Representatives Tom Emmer (R-MIN) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC), some public figures have been defending the digital asset industry for years.

Presidential candidates have also been outright touting the industry, from Donald Trump’s latest foray into NFTs, and Robert Kennedy Jr’s presence in all sorts of crypto conferences.

Broadly speaking, Republicans lean pro-crypto, whereas their Democrat counterparts are more against the free-willing industry, though there also are anti-crypto Republicans and pro-crypto Democrats. When zooming out, Cryptopols, which tracks U.S. crypto politics, places the overall sentiment regarding crypto as neutral in Congress.

U.S. Congress Sentiment - Cryptopols

Political Muscle

But crypto needs more political allies, Carbone said.

He told The Defiant, “we have been extremely strong on the advocacy front, but what has been missing in comparison to legacy industries is political muscle.”

According to Cryptopols the country’s political landscape is mostly torn between neutrality and pro-crypto.

The map below showcases red states as neutral, the varying yellow is for strong and “slightly” pro-crypto; meanwhile purple represents slightly anti-crypto, and deep blue is strongly anti-digital assets.

Crypto Sentiment Heat Map - Crytopols

Each state’s label is determined by the stance legislators have taken with regards to crypto.

At the moment, nine states are anti-digital assets, representing roughly 18% of the country. Twenty land in a neutral position, representing 40% of the country, and the remaining 20 are pro-crypto, representing another 40%. Alaska did not offer enough data to determine their sentiment.

According to Cryptopols, Mississippi and Alabama are the most pro-crypto states, while Maryland and Vermont are the most anti-crypto, according to the website.

Cryptopols methodology uses a wide range of parameters for situating public figures in the pro and anti crypto camp. These include legislative actions, public discourse, social media posts, or press releases.

Beating the Incumbents

According to Carbone, however, the narrative is less about states with strong candidates running, but rather about “opportunities to defeat crypto critics or the anti-crypto army.”

The anti-crypto army, led by Senator Elizabeth Warren, has been a staunch opponent to the digital asset industry in Washington D.C.

Carbone pointed to the race in Ohio, where incumbent and Senate Banking Chair, Sherrod Brown, faces GOP candidate and pro-crypto advocate, Bernie Moreno. Formerly a car dealer, Moreno has previously championed to turn Cleveland into a blockchain hub.

The Chief Policy Officer also signaled Montana as another electoral feud, home of Democratic Senator, Jon Tester, another fierce critic of crypto, and member of the Senate’s banking committee along with Brown.

Targeting Mostly Democrats

The crypto political network, led by super PAC Fairshake, wants to target Democratic primaries. They plan on sourcing and backing several pro-crypto candidates who can run against anti-crypto representatives.

Michigan, Maryland, Montana and Ohio comprise the main races the organization is aiming for after raising nearly $80 million to challenge anti-crypto politicians.

According to Politico, Ohio and Montana are led by two of the most critical opponents to crypto in the Senate–Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jon Tester (D-T). Their positions could become vulnerable in light of the millionaire budget wielded by Fairshake.

Fairshake has among its members several heavyweights of the crypto industry, including Andreesen Horowitz, Circle, Coinbase, Paradigm, and Jump Crypto.

North Carolina and Wyoming are Bastions

Two states stand out when it comes to crypto: North Carolina and Wyoming.

The latter has been pro-crypto for years, making headlines last week after passing a new bill that looks to pave the way for DAOs in the state, a move that got “two thumbs up” from experts.

According to Dan Spuller, head of industry affairs for the Blockchain Association, a crypto advocacy group, North Carolina represents one of the strongest states in the country for the industry, especially after the results of Super Tuesday on March 5.

Super Tuesday is the greatest electoral day of the year, and nearly one-third of all candidates are chosen among primaries across the country. The day is usually considered an indicator of which political candidates have the most chances of winning.

Spuller explained that on Super Tuesday, North Carolina voted “for one of America’s strongest pro Bitcoin and anti CBDC slates.”

Gauging from Spuller, Carbone, and Cryptopols, the best outcome for crypto would be flipping Democrats in the aforementioned Maryland, Montana, and Ohio–along with winning North Carolina’s Attorney General race.

Notably, just a few days ago, two leading contenders for the Democratic Party in Maryland revealed they were pro-crypto.

Presidential Candidates' Crypto Views

As the market enjoys widespread financial gains, which are likely to draw in bigger crowds of crypto investors, the industry could leverage this opportunity for even further insertion into the political arena.

Elections are scheduled for Nov. 5, and will likely see a second face-off between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. The former is strongly pro-dollar, but has been warming up to crypto for years, suggesting in a March 11 interview that he would not crack down on bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Without mentioning crypto too often in public, Joe Biden remains in the anti-crypto camp. He recently revived a potential 30% tax on Bitcoin mining in the country, a levy that would effectively decimate the country’s local crypto industry.

Can Congress be Pro-Crypto?

Forty percent of states are neutral, which means they house pro and anti crypto politicians. Fairshake is targeting strongly anti crypto states, leaving a wide margin in the neutral zone to potentially keep their spots.

So, even if the anti-crypto army gets widely defeated and loses key spots in Maryland, Michigan, and Ohio, it still remains to be seen how the needle moves in the rest of the country.

For the industry though, getting Washington D.C. firmly away from the anti camp would already be a win.