Democratic presidential hopefuls say they’ve raked in millions of dollars in first-quarter campaign contributions — their heaps of cash raising questions about Bay State Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s performance as her campaign remained mum on her numbers Tuesday.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — Warren’s main competition for the region — hauled in $18.2 million in the first 41 days of his campaign, staffers announced Tuesday. California Sen. Kamala Harris raised $12 million in the first quarter, her campaign said. And Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana — who has yet to formally announce his candidacy — said he brought in $7 million.
Warren’s campaign manager, Roger Lau, said in an email to supporters Tuesday that the team “hit our fundraising goal” for Sunday’s end-of-quarter deadline. But he didn’t delve into specifics, writing, “We’re still crunching all the numbers.” The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Democratic strategist Scott Ferson said the early finance reports prove the viability of Sanders’ 2020 bid, while making it that much harder for Warren to overtake him.
“Raising $18 million in 40-plus days is actually pretty impressive. … It shows legitimacy that he’s still relevant and still has the same magic that he did four years ago,” Ferson said. “If Bernie Sanders was old news, Elizabeth Warren was going to be able to step in easier,” but Sanders’ haul “makes it harder for Elizabeth Warren to climb that mantel.”
But in their first major campaign finance reports, Ferson said Democrats are “falling into the trap of playing this game of who’s raising the most money.”
“It’s both a little crazy and potentially destructive, because Elizabeth Warren has enough money to compete,” he said.
Sanders received nearly 900,000 individual contributions in the first six weeks — hitting that milestone in less than half the time it took him in 2016, his campaign said. The average donation was $20, with 88 percent of contributions coming from those who gave $200 or less.
Sanders also drew from across the aisle: 20,000 Republicans were said to have contributed to the campaign, along with nearly 100,000 Independents.
Harris notched her $12 million from 218,000 donations, her campaign touting it took, “Not a dime from PACs. No donations from federal lobbyists. Just people, pitching in $5, $10 at a time to power our movement.”
Buttigieg’s war chest was bolstered by 158,550 donors who made an average donation of $36.35, according to his campaign. Sixty-four percent of those funds came through contributions of less than $200. Buttigieg tweeted to his supporters on Monday that the campaign is “out-performing expectations at every turn.”
While the quarter came to a close Sunday, candidates have until April 15 to file their reports with the Federal Election Commission. As of Tuesday evening, the FEC said none of the major Democratic candidates had filed.