Sanders, Buttigieg reveal massive fundraising hauls in fourth quarter

Sanders appears poised to once again top his competitors in fundraising totals

Bernie Sanders raked in an astonishing $34.5 million in fundraising during the fourth quarter, according to his campaign, the most that any of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates has amassed in a single quarter.

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The Vermont senator appears poised to once again top his competitors in fundraising totals like he did during the third quarter, when he reported a $25 million haul.

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In total, Sanders has raised about $96 million in 2019 through 5 million donations, for an average contribution of $18, his campaign said.

Sanders has sworn off super PAC money, instead relying on small-dollar donations to fund his second presidential bid. The progressive senator's fundraising strategies differ dramatically from more moderate candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who have accepted PAC donations.

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“Bernie Sanders is closing the year with the most donations of any candidate in history at this point in a presidential campaign,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement. “He is proving each and every day that working-class Americans are ready and willing to fully fund a campaign that stands up for them and takes on the biggest corporations and the wealthy.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a Democratic presidential primary debate Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Presidential campaigns have until Jan. 31 to report fourth-quarter fundraising information to the Federal Election Commission, less than one week before the Iowa caucuses that kick off the primary process.

Buttigieg’s campaign, meanwhile, raised $24.7 million in the final three months of 2019, bringing his yearly total to $76 million -- a staggering amount for the South Bend, Indiana mayor, who began the year as a virtual unknown on the national stage. It’s an improvement from his third-quarter total, when he reported $19 million in donations.

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His quarter fundraising release comes amid heavy criticism from Elizabeth Warren, who like Sanders has eschewed traditional big-donor events.

The long-simmering debate over big money in politics erupted during the sixth Democratic debate in Los Angeles last week, when Warren went after Buttigieg for holding a fundraiser in a so-called wine cave in Napa Valley that was “full of crystals and served $900-a-bottle wine.”

“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States,” Warren said.

The RealClearPolitics voting averages show Buttigieg leading in Iowa, and Sanders first in New Hampshire, the second state to vote in the nominating process. Overall, Biden, Sanders and Warren are the top three nationally.