Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential bid raised $12 million in first quarter, her campaign says

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at a Human Rights Campaign event in Los Angeles on March 30.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Washington Post

Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign announced that it had raised $12 million in the first quarter, half of which it said came from online donations.

Official first-quarter fundraising numbers are not due until April 15, which means any numbers provided before then come directly from the campaign and are not yet subject to public scrutiny. But several of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls are likely to preview their numbers ahead of time. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg reported $7 million in first-quarter fundraising Monday morning. Others have yet to release figures, leaving Harris’ number reported Monday as an early benchmark in a crowded field still sorting out its hierarchy.

Harris’ news release said that 98% of her donations were of $100 or less and that $6 million of her total was raised via digital contributions. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) each reported more than $6 million in fundraising in the first 24 hours of their campaigns and have demonstrated stronger grass-roots fundraising ability than Harris’ in previous campaigns at the state and national level.


Harris announced her candidacy on Jan. 21, meaning the California Democrat is averaging around $171,000 in fundraising per day. If O’Rourke had not raised any more money than he did in the first 24 hours after his announcement last month, he would still be averaging about $340,000 per day, based on his first fundraising announcement.

While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she will eschew traditional big-dollar fundraising events to pay for her campaign, Harris has not shied away from soliciting help from big Democratic donor bases in California and other states in recent weeks, attending fundraising events in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere. Harris has, however, joined most of her fellow candidates in avoiding corporate PAC and lobby money.

Members of Harris’ staff suggest that although the senator might not have the same grass-roots fundraising scale as O’Rourke or Sanders, she is building enough of a small-donation base to keep a balanced fundraising portfolio and remain competitive online. As the first quarter of the fundraising year ended Sunday, many of Harris’ top campaign staffers were soliciting donations on Twitter as part of an intra-campaign competition.

Harris’ sister and campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, tweeted a video of her laughing at the notion that any of her fellow campaign staffers would raise more money. The late social media push seems to have paid off because the campaign reported $1.1 million in digital fundraising in the last week of March. Harris reported $1.5 million in donations in the first 24 hours of her campaign.