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Pete Buttigieg outraises Kamala Harris in California as new presidential numbers released

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Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, shares some words with supporters in downtown Fresno before holding a town hall meeting at Fresno State.
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Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, shares some words with supporters in downtown Fresno before holding a town hall meeting at Fresno State.

California Sen. Kamala Harris’ breakout debate performance last month brought in a surge of donations, but it wasn’t enough to put her ahead of South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg in her home state.

Buttigieg, who raised the most of any of the Democratic presidential candidates in the second quarter, raised $3.8 million from California donors who gave at least $200 between April 1 and June 30 of 2019, according to a McClatchy analysis of fundraising data. Harris raised $3.3 million from big-money donors in California.

The candidates filed their second quarter fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission on Monday. Campaigns do not have to report information about donors who gave less than $200.

Overall, the 2020 Democratic candidates raised more than $15 million in California over the past three months. Many of the candidates in the massive primary field visited the state multiple times this spring, primarily for private fundraising events.

Former Vice President Joe Biden raised $2.4 million from Californians in his first three months of campaigning, ranking him third behind Buttigieg and Harris. Elizabeth Warren raised $1.5 million, compared to $1.4 million for Bernie Sanders.

Those five candidates also raised the most money overall of the 20-plus presidential hopefuls running in the Democratic primary. And they are the only candidates who’ve consistently earned more than 1 or 2% in state and national polls.

California is often referred to as the party’s political ATM, but the state’s voters could also play a significant role in deciding who become the party’s eventual nominee next year. One of a pack of states that will vote on March 3, known as Super Tuesday, California has nearly 500 delegates up for grabs, more than any other state.

Harris, who served as California attorney general before being elected to the Senate in 2016, has already lined up endorsements from almost of the state’s top officials. She raised the most of any candidate from Californians in the first three months of the year, and her campaign announced it had raised $2 million online in the first 24 hours after her debate performance on June 28.

The former prosecutor drew headlines for her pointed critique of Biden and his comments on busing and working with segregationists, which became the focal point of post-debate news coverage and commentary.

Overall, Harris raised $5.3 million from small-dollar donors, those giving less than $200, and another $6.5 million from donors giving $200-plus. Of the large donors, more than half live in California.

Polls, however, show Harris vying with Biden, Warren and Sanders for the support of California Democrats, with Buttigieg not far behind.

Emily Cadei works out of the McClatchy Washington bureau, where she covers national politics and policy for McClatchy’s California readers. A native of Sacramento, she has spent more than a decade in D.C. reporting on U.S. elections, Congress and foreign affairs for publications including Newsweek, Congressional Quarterly and Roll Call.
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.
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