Bernie Sanders raises more than $25 million in the third quarter, his campaign says

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign announced he raised more than $19 million in the third quarter.
Image: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes a selfie with students after speaking at a campaign event,
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., takes a selfie with students after speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.Cheryl Senter / AP

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By Allan Smith, Gary Grumbach, Shaquille Brewster and Ben Kamisar

Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign said Tuesday that he raised $25.3 million during the past three months, an increase of more than $7 million from his second-quarter haul.

While few candidates have released their most recent fundraising results so far, Sanders' haul is more than any other Democratic presidential candidate has raised during any fundraising quarter this year.

And it's a significant increase from the $18 million he raised from April through June.

The campaign says the Vermont independent, who sought the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2016, has raised about $61.5 million since launching his campaign in February.

Sanders' eye-popping fundraising total comes as he has dropped in the polls. Despite jockeying with former Vice President Joe Biden for the lead in early polling, he trailed both Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts in six of the last eight polls used by the Democratic National Committee to determine debate qualification.

But Sanders' campaign manager Faiz Shakir argued in a statement alongside the fundraising results that those donations discredit the narrative that Sanders is slipping.

"Media elites and professional pundits have tried repeatedly to dismiss this campaign, and yet working-class Americans keep saying loudly and clearly that they want a political revolution," Shakir said.

Sanders' fundraising machine is powered by a massive small-donor army — his campaign had more unique donors than any other Democratic presidential candidate during the first six months of 2019, according to an NBC News analysis.

And the Sanders campaign said Tuesday that it has more than 130,000 recurring monthly donation pledges and virtually none of his donors have hit the federal caps that limit individual donors to contributing no more than $2,800 to any candidate in an election cycle.

Most of the Democratic candidates have not revealed their third-quarter fundraising figures, as campaigns have until Oct. 15 to file their reports with the Federal Election Commission.

But some candidates, like Sanders, release portions of those results to the media early to trumpet their hauls.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaign announced Tuesday that he raised more than $19.1 million in the third quarter. While that's a dip from the $24.8 million the campaign pulled in in the previous fundraising quarter, it's still a major total that will likely keep Buttigieg in the top echelon of fundraisers. Buttigieg has now raised more than $51 million since the start of 2019.

Neither Buttigieg nor Sanders released their cash on hand, nor the amount of money their campaigns spent to rake in such lofty totals. Those numbers, which will be available by the middle of the month, will paint a more well-rounded picture of where the entire field stands with fundraising.

Buttigieg has found himself lagging significantly behind Biden, Warren and Sanders at the polls, but has one of the largest war chests of the field.

His campaign said in a release that it has made big investments aimed at catching up to other campaigns with resources on the ground in the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

While the campaign had no field offices by the start of July, the campaign says it now has 42.

"We’ve been hyper-focused on scaling the organization and building the infrastructure needed to win the nomination," Buttigieg campaign manager Mike Schmuhl wrote in a memo released by the campaign Tuesday.

"We are one of the few campaigns that has been able to make these large strategic investments, and this strong fundraising quarter has put us in position to have the resources needed to win," he wrote.

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris' campaign announced Tuesday afternoon that it raised $11.6 million in the third quarter. That's virtually in step with her fundraising totals in each of the past two quarters.

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced that his campaign raised more than $6 million in the third quarter, an announcement made less than two weeks after the campaign said it needed to raise $1.7 million to stay in the race.

Addisu Demissie, Booker's campaign manager, said in a Tuesday memo that the money will help the campaign hire 40 new staff and open up more early state field offices.

"We have the funds we need to grow," Demissie said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday. "If you tell people the truth and tells what you need, they will come to your aid."

Demissie said the campaign now needs to raise close to $3 million in October to stay on track, but said Booker would not threaten to drop out if he falls short.

The campaign said it closed September strong, raising just shy of $2.2 million since Booker's ultimatum. But it remains to be seen if he can keep up that clip.

Alex Seitz-Wald contributed.