A surging Harris lags in fundraising, while Buttigieg leads the Democratic pack

Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg.
(Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris raised and spent millions of dollars more than their Democratic primary rivals between April 1 and June 30, according to the FEC.

The money race reinforced the tiers in the Democratic presidential contest on Monday, as candidates released their fundraising figures for recent months.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris — the five candidates who have been atop recent polls — raised and spent millions of dollars more than their Democratic primary rivals between April 1 and June 30, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The Iowa caucuses are more than 200 days from now, but political experts say that the fundraising totals reported Monday by a sprawling field of roughly two dozen candidates reinforce the narrative in the Democratic primary.

“This is the political version of income inequality. The gap between the very rich and the very poor keeps growing, and it’s only going to get harder for one of the second-tier candidates to create enough excitement to catch up to the front-runners,” said Dan Schnur, who teaches political communications at USC and UC Berkeley. “… The odds of someone breaking out without big dollars is even harder in such a crowded field.”


Buttigieg, from South Bend, Ind., raised the most of the Democrats — $25 million — and had $22.7 million in the bank entering the summer, a crucial time for candidates to woo voters in the early-contest states by holding house parties, visiting county fairs and building strong ground teams in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Sanders raised $18 million from donors and has $27.3 million cash on hand after transferring $7.6 million from his Senate reelection account. Biden took in $22 million and has $10.9 million in the bank, and Warren raised $19.2 million and has $19.8 million to spend, according to the reports.

Harris, who has surged in recent weeks after a widely hailed debate performance, raised nearly $12 million, significantly less than the other top-tier candidates. However, her donations have likely spiked in the aftermath of the June 27 Democratic debate, when she used her personal experience as a young girl who was bused to school to attack Biden’s past opposition to certain forms of desegregation. The debate took place just before the fundraising quarter closed. California’s junior senator has nearly $13.3 million in the bank.

President Trump bested all of the Democratic candidates, reporting $26.5 million in fundraising and $56.7 million in the bank. However, that figure includes $17.6 million in transfers from prior campaign committees, and is eclipsed by the $47 million then-President Obama raised during the same period in his reelection bid in 2011.


Trump campaign’s cash on hand tops $56 million

Trump’s lone Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, reported anemic numbers — raising less than $700,000 from individual donors and having $299,000 in his coffers.

The figures reported in this article are for candidates’ campaign committees and do not include political party or outside groups, which are gearing up to spend untold millions of dollars on the 2020 campaign.

Among Democrats, Sanders, Warren and former Housing Secretary Julián Castro had considerable donations of $200 or less — a sign of grass-roots support.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Castro’s Texas rival who dazzled Democratic donors during his unsuccessful 2018 Senate run, reported raising an underwhelming $3.6 million with $5.2 million in the bank.

Some candidates padded their fundraising figures by transferring money from Senate reelection accounts, notably Sanders but also Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts. Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota previously transferred money from their Senate reelection accounts to their presidential campaigns.

Former Maryland Rep. John Delaney reported having $7.4 million in cash on hand, more than many of his better-known rivals. The founder of two banks, Delaney is self-financing his campaign and raised a scant $285,000 during the reporting period.

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Aside from Harris, the other Californians showed paltry reserves. Rep. Eric Swalwell, who dropped out of the presidential race last week, and spiritual guru Marianne Williamson both reported having a little more than $500,000 in the bank as of June 30. Andrew Yang, a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur, reported having nearly $850,000 in cash on hand.

Billionaire Bay Area environmentalist and former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million of his own money on his bid, wasn’t required to file disclosure documents because he entered the race July 9, days after the second-quarter closed.

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