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Kamala Harris is crushing other 2020 Democrats in California fundraising

Sen. Kamala Harris used her home-state connections to raise more than $4.3 million from California donors in the first three months of the year, far more than any of her Democratic rivals in the 2020 presidential race.

All told, Californians accounted for 57 percent of the money Harris raised from donors who gave at least $200 from the time she launched her campaign in mid-January through the end of March, according to an analysis of newly filed financial reports.

“$4 million is a great figure to post, and I think it proves early that California donors will be adding a zero to the checks they wrote in 2016,” said Wade Randlett, a San Francisco energy executive and Democratic donor. “Every candidate who looks like they can erase the stain of Donald Trump in 2020 will have a huge amount of gold to mine here.”

No other Democratic presidential candidate came close to matching Harris in donor-rich California in the first fundraising quarter of the election cycle. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker collected around $870,000 from California donors, accounting for 20 percent of his financial base, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $780,000 from the state, making up 27 percent of his high-dollar pool. Booker and Sanders both entered the race in February.

However, 84 percent of Sanders’ money came from donors who gave less than $200, who do not have to be publicly disclosed. Nationwide, Sanders raised $18.1 million in the first quarter, the most of any Democratic candidate.

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg raised more than $500,000 from Californians, accounting for 20 percent of his fundraising haul. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised $480,00, making up 14 percent of her collection. And New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand raised roughly $450,000 from the state, which was 18 percent of her total.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke each raised about $390,000. That accounted for 22 percent of Warren’s total and 10 percent of O’Rourke’s.

While Harris leads the 2020 pack in California cash, she actually trails the pace set in 2007 by Hillary Clinton, whose campaign took in more than $5 million from California donors in the first three months of the 2008 cycle. Barack Obama, the eventual nominee, took in roughly $4.2 million in California in the same period.

Many major Democratic donors are staying on the sidelines in the early stages of the 2020 race, waiting to see how the crowded field shakes out in the coming months before choosing a candidate. Others are backing multiple contenders.

Harris, though, has benefited from the relationships she has developed in California during her time as senator and the state’s attorney general.

The Democratic hopefuls have paid close attention to California this year not only for campaign cash but for delegates as well. California moved its primary up from June to Super Tuesday on March 3, when its 416 pledged delegates will be up for grabs, more than any other state.

Harris, Sanders, Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar have all held public campaign events in California this year.

Some donors are also waiting for former Vice President Joe Biden to enter the race. A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Biden leading the Democratic field in California with 26 percent support, followed by Sanders with 18 percent and Harris with 17 percent.

Sanders lost the 2016 California Democratic primary by seven points.

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Ben Wieder is a data reporter in McClatchy’s Washington bureau. He worked previously at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Press Foundation, Online News Association and Association of Health Care Journalists.
Adam Wollner is a political editor for McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covers the 2020 presidential campaign. Previously, he covered elections and Capitol Hill for National Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.