Jeb Bush, Ben Carson lead GOP presidential fundraising

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Jeb Bush raised $13.4 million this past summer for his Republican presidential bid — more than almost any other primary competitor, but far less than political newcomer Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who collected about $20 million during the same period.

Meanwhile, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the two leading Democrats in the 2016 race, each raised more than any of the Republicans who have said what donors gave them between July 1 and Sept. 30.

Among those who have yet to share their fundraising information is GOP front-runner Donald Trump, the rich real-estate dealmaker whose mild forays into fundraising include selling his trademark “Make America Great Again” hats. “I thought I’d have spent about $20, $25 million dollars up until this point. You know what I’ve spent? Like nothing,” Trump said Wednesday, crediting media coverage for negating the need to spend on paid ads.

With fundraising reports due to federal regulators by midnight Thursday, here’s a look at what we know so far about the state of presidential campaign finance in the third quarter, and what we expect to learn when the candidates’ official reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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CLINTON, SANDERS RAISE ABOUT THE SAME AMOUNT — IN DIFFERENT WAYS

Clinton’s campaign said it raised $28 million in the three months ending Sept. 30. That’s less than what she raised in the early months of her campaign, but more than any previous non-incumbent Democratic presidential primary contestant in the third quarter of the year before Election Day.

Most of the money came in through dozens of traditional fundraising events, where the price of entry was often the legal maximum donation of $2,700.

Sanders brought in about $26 million, but did so largely through small contributions collected online. He continues to show off his fundraising prowess, harvesting about $2 million in new contributions in the hours that followed Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

“We are doing it the old-fashioned way: 650,000 individual contributions,” Sanders said in his closing statement of that appearance, adding: “We are averaging 30 bucks apiece. We would appreciate your help.”

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CARSON THE EARLY LEADER IN GOP CONTEST

Lots of Republican voters sent a message this summer in preference polls that they want an outsider as their nominee. That’s reflected in how they’re giving to the candidates, too.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson appears likely to post the best haul of the dozen-plus candidates in the GOP field, with about $20 million. But his campaign also spent heavily, burning through $14 million over the same time period.

Carson spent most of that money raising money, according to figures the campaign provided to The Associated Press. Still, Carson had about $11 million in available cash as of Sept. 30.

One of Carson’s closest fundraising competitors is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose campaign raised $12.2 million in the third quarter and ended the month with $13.5 million in the bank. Although he has been a senator since 2012, he also is running as an outsider, with a focus on the many times he has broken with Senate Republican leadership over issues such as shutting down the government to defund implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Former technology executive Carly Fiorina, who has never held elected office, raised $6.8 million for her campaign — four times as much as she collected at the start of her campaign. Her boost came after strong debate performances that also led to a rise in some national preference polls.

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LOWER FIGURES FOR OTHERS IN GOP

Others in the Republican race found the summer months a tough slog for fundraising. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul raised $2.5 million and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio about $6 million. Paul recently devoted time to a separate bid to keep his Senate seat, leading some to question if he’s still in the White House race.

“I wouldn’t be doing this dumb-ass livestreaming if I weren’t,” Paul said in a recent Internet video. “So, yes, I still am running for president. So get over it.”

In a memo to supporters on Thursday, the Paul campaign continued to provide assurance that it is “here to stay.” The candidate raised almost $1 million in the 12 days after the September debate, the memo says.

Rubio’s campaign argues that it can make its money go the distance because of its extreme frugality. The campaign told top donors that it began October with $11 million socked away. As evidence of its tight ship, Rubio’s campaign manager Terry Sullivan has said he must personally approve all expenses over $500.

But Rubio is also getting a boost from a nonprofit group that doesn’t disclose its donors. While the campaign hasn’t purchased any television commercials, the group Conservative Solutions Project has already spent millions of dollars on ads.

Weighing on these lower-raising candidates are the fates of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Both dropped out of the 2016 Republican nominating contest for lack of funds.

Federal reports filed Thursday show Perry raised less than $300,000 between July 1 and Sept. 11, when he ended his campaign. It had about $45,000 left in the bank at the end of last month, FEC documents show. And Walker, despite having raised $7.4 million in the summer months, quickly burned through the money and dropped out 10 days after Perry. He closed September with less than $1 million in available cash — not enough to cover the nearly 100 employees on his payroll.

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HOTLY ANTICIPATED REPORTS

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both entered the Republican entered the race later than the other candidates, meaning Thursday provides the first look at their fundraising.

Ahead of Thursday’s filing, Christie’s spokeswoman said the campaign had raised $4.2 million in recent months and had $1.4 million cash on hand at the end of September. Although the haul puts him in the lower tier of Republican fundraisers, Christie played down the importance of money. “We’re doing fine,” Christie recently said during a swing through New Hampshire. “I’m proud of what we did in the third quarter fundraising, which is always a really difficult quarter given the summer and everything else.”

Kasich’s campaign had not released fundraising details by Thursday afternoon.

Ahead of his fundraising filing, Bush’s campaign manager Danny Diaz said the former Florida governor had collected $13.4 million in the latest fundraising quarter, and had about $10.3 million in available cash as of Sept. 30. Bush also said he plans to release a list of his top money-raisers on Thursday.

Such disclosure isn’t required by law, but many candidates, including Clinton, have done so in the name of transparency. Bush hasn’t yet said precisely what information he’ll be sharing.

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WHAT WE WON’T LEARN: THE BIGGEST DONORS

Only the official campaigns face a Thursday fundraising reporting deadline. Their super PAC counterparts can wait until January to disclose their newest financial details and donor names.

While contributors can give a maximum of $2,700 per election to campaigns, they face no such restrictions with super PACs. Those groups must be legally separate from the campaigns, but are often stacked with a candidate’s most trusted aides.

As of June 30, super PACs and other outside groups tailored to presidential candidates had raised more than three times as much as the candidates themselves.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press. 

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