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Several 2020 Democrats face major cash crunch ahead of competitive primaries

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — As the 2020 Democratic primary field enters an ever-more competitive phase of the historic presidential election, most candidates are facing a major cash crunch– except for Sen. Bernie Sanders and the two billionaire contenders, the latest campaign disclosures show.

Leading up to what resulted in a chaotic first party contest in Iowa, most of the major Democratic presidential candidates saw red during January fundraising. This is indeed the spending season — but as the candidates like to remind us, the voting has barely begun. The race is on, not just for delegates, but for cash.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in particular were treading a dangerous line with a high burn rate, spending more than twice what they brought in last month.

According to new fundraising records filed to the Federal Election Commission Thursday night, Warren was the second biggest fundraiser in the Democratic field after Sanders, bringing in $10.4 million in January. But the Massachusetts senator spent also $22.4 million that month and entered February with just $2.3 million in the bank, lowest of the major remaining candidates. Similarly, the Buttigieg campaign brought in just $6.2 million in January but spent more than $14 million, ending the month with just $6.6 million in hand.

The Warren campaign also took out a $3 million line of credit in January and tapped $400,000 of it, the new FEC record shows. The campaign explained to ABC News that the campaign secured the loan “in case it was necessary for cash flow purposes” ahead of the Iowa caucuses but that “it ultimately wasn’t necessary.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden also brought in a relatively modest $8.9 million and spent $10.6 million in January, ending the month with $7.1 million on hand, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised $5.5 million and spent $7.6 million last month and had $2.9 million cash on hand.

Meanwhile, Sanders continued to not only lead the pack in fundraising but also break his own past fundraising record. He raked in a massive $25 million in just the month of January, more than any other Democratic presidential candidate raised in a quarter in 2019. Sanders’ January haul is also was his quarterly record last year before he broke the record by raising more than $34 million in the last three months of 2019.

Sanders entered the primary voting season with a comfortable $16.8 million in the bank, topping all of his non-billionaire rivals, a reminder of why Sanders is the only candidate who seems competitive everywhere on Super Tuesday.

But former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is smashing ad spending records using his own money, is also rapidly rising to the national attention. The billionaire candidate just in January invested a staggering $263.6 million of his own money in his campaign and the campaign used $220.6 million of that in the same month.

From when he launched his campaign in late November through the end of January, Bloomberg has already spent $464 million of his own money for his presidential run.

Billionaire Tom Steyer also poured $53 million of his own money into his campaign last month but his relatively smaller cash power hasn’t given him the same boost that Bloomberg’s money has for the 11th-hour candidate.

But campaigns say they’re seeing major boost in fundraising in the past few weeks. The Warren campaign said it raised more than $17 million in just the first 20 days of February, and the Klobuchar campaign on Sunday said it raised $12 million since ABC News’ debate in New Hampshire earlier this month.

The Democratic presidential hopefuls have also since picked up support from big-money super PACs. Two new super PACs have popped up in past week in support of Klobuchar and Warren, giving them boost ahead of the upcoming Nevada caucuses and Super Tuesday primaries.

Pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country and pro-Buttigieg group VoteVets have also continued to engage in an aggressive ad campaign in support of the two.

But as the Democratic Party prepares for the fast-approaching convention and the general election, one of the keys to Democrats’ victory in November is competing with President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee’s massive fundraising prowess. In January alone, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their joint fundraising vehicles together raised a total of $60.6 million in January, with more than $200 million cash on hand, according to the campaign.

The Democratic National Committee and its joint fundraising committee Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund raised $15 million in January, a DNC spokesperson told ABC News. About $10.8 million of that went to the DNC, the committee’s latest FEC filing shows.

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