Just how vast a financial advantage Jeb Bush has so far over his 2016 presidential rivals started to become clear Thursday, when Bush’s team reported its fund-raising totals as of the end of June.
Bush’s campaign, which wasn’t official until last month, collected $11.4 million, a significant number in and of itself. But it was a pro-Bush political action committee that made the big headlines: The Right to Rise USA Super PAC amassed $103 million since January, bringing the total dollars raised on Bush’s behalf to more than $114 million.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming response from the thousands of donors who have been drawn to Jeb’s optimistic message of conservative renewal and reform,” Charlie Spies, Right to Rise’s treasurer and general counsel, said in a statement.
Bush is in a far stronger financial position than any other Republican or Democratic contender. Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who kicked off her candidacy two months before Bush, and her allies have raised about $69 million. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and four Super PACs have raised more than $51 million since March.
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The only two other Republicans to have disclosed their campaign hauls are retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson ($10.5 million) and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina ($4.8 million between herself and a Super PAC). Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s total is pending, though a pro-Rubio Super PAC and political nonprofit have raised $31.8 million total.
Some Bush backers had said privately that they hoped to hit the $100 million mark in the candidate’s first report, but others had tried to tamp down expectations, claiming the figure would be lower. Still, when the former Florida governor gathered key donors in Miami Beach in April, he boasted Right to Rise had shattered fund-raising records.
Before making his candidacy official, Bush spent five months traveling across the country to attend events for Right to Rise. He can no longer “coordinate” with the Super PAC, which unlike his Miami-base campaign can accept unlimited amounts from donors.
When it comes to spending the money, campaigns get less expensive rates for advertising than outside groups; Right to Rise filed its first public expenditure Thursday: $47,000 for media production and placement in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first states to cast presidential ballots next year. Right to Rise is run out of Los Angeles by longtime Bush political adviser Mike Murphy.
Detailed reports listing how much each person contributed, and when, are due to the Federal Election Commission later this month. Some groups, classified as tax-exempt nonprofits, can keep their donors secret.
Right to Rise said its donations came from more than 9,900 contributors, with almost all of them — 9,400 — giving $25,000 or less. More than $98 million of the Super PAC’s $103 million remains in the bank.
Bush’s campaign, Jeb 2016, said it accepted donations from all 50 states and Washington D.C., though it did not specify how many people had donated or how much of the cash remains on hand. While Bush announced his candidacy June 15, his campaign account had been able to accept contributions since earlier that month.
“Jeb is encouraged and grateful for the tremendous early support and enthusiasm his candidacy has generated since he launched his campaign,” Woody Johnson, the campaign’s national finance chairman and owner of the National Football League’s New York Jets, said in a statement. “We are confident our campaign will have the resources needed to get Jeb’s conservative record, message and vision for the future out to voters across the country.”
Bush invited supporters who collected $27,000 in the last two weeks of June to join him Thursday evening and Friday at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. He has scheduled a flurry of fund-raisers to follow for the rest of July.
Presidential campaign cash
Here’s how much 2016 presidential contenders have reported raising so far. Not all of them have disclosed their totals yet.
▪ Jeb Bush: $11.4 million (campaign) + $103 million (allies) = $114.4 million
▪ Ted Cruz: $14.2 million (campaign) + $37 million (allies) = $51.2 million
▪ Marco Rubio: $31.8 million (allies)
▪ Ben Carson: $10.5 million (campaign)
▪ Carly Fiorina: $1.4 million (campaign) + $3.4 million (allies) = $4.8 million
▪ Hillary Clinton: $45 million (campaign) + $24 million (allies) = $69 million
▪ Bernie Sanders: $15 million (campaign)