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Kamala Harris raised $12 million in first quarter, her campaign says

Sen. Kamala Harris speaks during the worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta on March 24. (Curtis Compton/AP)

SACRAMENTO — Sen. Kamala D. Harris, who declared her candidacy for president in late January, raised $12 million in the first quarter, half of which came from digital donations, according to her campaign.

Official first-quarter fundraising numbers are not due until April 15, which means any numbers provided before then come directly from the campaign and are not yet subject to public scrutiny. But several of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls are likely to preview their numbers. South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg reported $7 million in first-quarter fundraising Monday morning. Others have yet to do the same, leaving Harris’s number as an early benchmark in a crowded field still sorting out its hierarchy.

Harris’s news release claimed 98 percent of her donations are of $100 or less and that $6 million of her total was raised via digital contributions. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) both reported more than $6 million in fundraising in the first 24 hours of their campaigns and have demonstrated stronger grass-roots fundraising ability than Harris’s in previous campaigns.

Harris (D-Calif.) announced her candidacy on Jan. 21, meaning she is averaging around $171,000 in fundraising per day. If O’Rourke had not raised any more money than he did in the first 24 hours after his announcement last month, he would still be averaging around $340,000 per day, based on his first fundraising announcement.

While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said she will eschew traditional big-dollar fundraising events to pay for her campaign, Harris has not shied away from soliciting help from big Democratic donor bases in California and other states in recent weeks, attending fundraising events in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere. Harris has, however, joined most of her fellow candidates in swearing off corporate PAC and lobby money.

Members of Harris’s staff suggest that while the senator might not have the same grass-roots fundraising scale as O’Rourke or Sanders, she is building enough of a small-donation base to keep a balanced fundraising portfolio and remain competitive online. As the first quarter of the fundraising year ended Sunday, many of Harris’s top campaign staffers were soliciting donations on Twitter as part of an intra-campaign competition.

Harris’s sister and campaign chair, Maya Harris, tweeted a video of her laughing at the notion that any of her fellow campaign staffers would raise more money. The late social media push seems to have paid off because the campaign reported $1.1 million in digital fundraising in the last week of March. Harris reported $1.5 million in donations in the first 24 hours of her campaign.