UNITED STATES NEWS

Fundraising takeaways: Trump and DeSantis in their own tier as Pence and other Republicans struggle

Jul 15, 2023, 11:03 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis are dominating the fight for campaign cash in the Republican presidential contest, according to federal filings made public Saturday. While some struggled, like former Vice President Mike Pence, others reported significant hauls that help ensure the GOP’s 2024 primary will be crowded for the foreseeable future.

On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign has quickly amassed a sizeable fortune. But longshot Democratic primary opponent Robert Kennedy Jr. also raised enough to ensure he won’t be ignored.

Overall, the 2024 presidential class’s second-quarter filings with the Federal Election Commission, covering the period between April 1 and June 30, leave unanswered several questions. For example, the total numbers of individual donors for each campaign, a figure tied directly to GOP debate participation, won’t be known until the end of the month.

And each candidate’s allied super PACs, which in some cases account for the majority of their campaign’s cash, won’t file latest figures until the end of the month.

Still, the federal reports offer several insights six months before the first primary votes are cast. Here are some key takeaways:

TRUMP AND DESANTIS IN A TIER OF THEIR OWN

While Trump is leading most polls, he and DeSantis are in a tier of their own on the fundraising front.

Trump’s team recently confirmed that his joint fundraising operation — which splits money between Trump’s campaign and the Save America PAC — received $35 million in the second quarter. The campaign did not say how much of that $35 million went to the campaign and how much went to Save America, which has covered non-campaign related expenses in the past, including Trump’s legal bills.

The average donation to Trump’s 2024 campaign now stands at $34, evidence, the campaign said, of his grassroots backing.

Earlier in the week, DeSantis announced raising $20 million for the six weeks he was in the race. The Florida governor’s allied super PAC, which is legally barred from coordinating with the campaign, said it raised a stunning $130 million since the committee launched in March. More than half of that came from a state-level political committee once controlled by DeSantis.

Regardless of where it came from, DeSantis’ fundraising will buy him some time to strengthen his candidacy as he struggles to catch Trump in the polls.

DEBATE IMPLICATIONS

The fundraising numbers carry additional significance because they are tied directly to the GOP’s first presidential debate next month.

Beyond a 1% polling threshold, the Republican National Committee has announced that candidates must have a minimum of 40,000 unique donors with at least 200 unique donors per state or territory, in 20 states and territories.

Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Sen. Tim Scott, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and conservative businessman Vivek Ramaswamy announced in recent days they had reached the 40,000 donor threshold. Pence has yet to make such an announcement.

Saturday’s federal filings do not provide a complete accounting of such figures, which won’t be available until the end of the month.

Overall, Haley’s campaign raised $7.3 million in the second quarter and ended June with $9.3 million in the bank. That’s as the main pro-Haley super PAC claimed $17 million cash on hand.

Scott raised $6.1 million since announcing his campaign in May. And Ramaswamy, a 37-year-old entrepreneur, raised more than $7.7 million in the quarter, including lending his campaign $5 million from his own personal fortune. He finished the quarter with more than $9 million on hand.

Christie, in the race for just 25 days of the second quarter, raised $1.65 million through his campaign and reported nearly $1.6 million in the bank as of June 30.

PENCE IN TROUBLE?

Pence raised just $1.2 million in the second quarter, according to spokesman Devin O’Malley.

He still may ultimately hit the 40,000-donor threshold to qualify for the opening debate, but the extraordinary possibility remains that the former vice president might find himself excluded from the Aug. 23 primetime affair.

Pence has struggled to find his footing since launching his campaign in early June.

A lifelong conservative and staunch Trump loyalist while in office, Pence has been vilified by the GOP base for refusing to block the certification of Biden’s victory on Jan. 6, 2021, as Trump insisted. The former vice president had no legal standing to block the election results despite Trump’s claims to the contrary, which sparked a violent uprising at the U.S. Capitol at which radicalized Trump supporters chanted for Pence to be hanged.

Others appears to be struggling to attract donations as well.

Former Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson announced a fundraising total of more than $743,000 including his principal campaign and his joint fundraising committee. On Friday, he said that he received contributions from 3,928 unique donors from April to June. And since July 1, he claimed contributions from another 2,516 unique donors.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, the only Hispanic candidate in the Republican primary, raised $945,000 since launching his campaign two weeks before the end of the quarter. California conservative Larry Elder, one of two African Americans seeking the GOP nomination, raised just $467,000.

BIDEN STRONG, BUT NOT ALONE

Biden and the Democratic National Committee have raised more than $72 million for his reelection in the 10 weeks since he announced his 2024 candidacy.

The president’s fundraising total includes donations to his campaign and to a network of joint fundraising arrangements with the national and state parties. While that’s a huge sum, President Barack Obama raised $85.6 million during the April-to-June quarter in 2011 when he launched his campaign for a second term, although he announced his candidacy three weeks earlier.

The Biden campaign said the total came from nearly 400,000 donors, and that 97% of donations were under $200 and more than 30% of donors had not given to Biden in 2020.

Biden is especially well positioned, at least compared with Republicans, because he can devote his money toward the general election. The incumbent president faces only token opposition in the Democratic Party’s nomination contest, although one of his opponents, Kennedy, has raised enough money to ensure he won’t be ignored completely.

Kennedy’s campaign raised nearly 6.4 million for the quarter and had $4.5 million in the bank as of June 30. A pro-Kennedy super PAC, meanwhile, said it has raised more than $10 million so far.

___

Associated Press writers Chad Day and Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed.

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Fundraising takeaways: Trump and DeSantis in their own tier as Pence and other Republicans struggle