Pete Buttigieg raised more than $24.7 million during the final three months of 2019, his campaign announced early Wednesday morning — cementing his standing as one of the fundraising leaders of the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
The amount Buttigieg collected exceeds the $19.2 million that the outgoing South Bend, Indiana, mayor raised during the previous three-month period. Buttigieg is the first candidate to disclose his year-end fundraising total, as he seeks to demonstrate financial strength before primary voting kicks off in February.
In all, Buttigieg raised more than $76 million from more than 733,000 individuals in the last year, his campaign manager Mike Schmuhl said in a memo. He said the campaign has used the money to build a staff of more than 500 people nationwide and open 65 field offices in early voting states, including 35 in Iowa.
“Pete has demonstrated that he has the appeal, message, and leadership to build a winning organization to not only secure the nomination, but to defeat Donald Trump this year,” Schmuhl said.
The campaign did not disclose how much money Buttigieg has remaining in the bank. The nomination battle kicks off next month with the Iowa caucuses on February 3.
Other candidates have offered clues about their fundraising in recent days.
In a rare move, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign publicly announced late last month that it had collected more than $17 million. Candidates typically keep those numbers private, but Warren’s campaign released an early number in a bid to encourage supporters to help her hit the $20 million mark by year’s end.
On Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker’s campaign manager tweeted that the New Jersey Democrat would post the “best fundraising quarter” of his presidential campaign during the last three months of the year. If Booker does so, he will exceed the $6 million he raised during the third quarter of the year. But Booker has consistently lagged behind the top fundraisers in the battle for his party’s nomination.
Buttigieg started 2019 as a little-known Indiana mayor without a large online donor base.
But he quickly demonstrated an ability to make inroads in Democratic fundraising circles — even as some of his better-known rivals have faltered. A CNN analysis in July found that at least 40 top fundraisers to President Barack Obama’s reelection bid had donated to Buttigieg’s campaign during the second fundraising quarter of 2019.
Buttigieg has faced intense criticism from rivals such as Warren for participating in high-dollar fundraisers. Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have eschewed traditional fundraising in favor of online grassroots donations.
Under fire from Warren at December’s primary debate, Buttigieg decried “purity tests” and defended his strategy. “This is our only chance to defeat Donald Trump, and we shouldn’t try to do it with one hand tied behind our back,” he said. Buttigieg has released lists of his “bundlers,” as top fundraisers are known, and recently opened his fundraising events to journalists.
As 2019 drew to a close, Buttigieg’s campaign also sought to emphasize small-dollar donations by staging a competition in which donors could challenge one another to contribute the smallest amount. Critics argued it was a gimmick to drive down his average donation amount.
Tuesday was the last day of the fundraising quarter. Candidates have until January 31 to disclose the details of their fundraising and spending to the Federal Election Commission.