Chris Christie Trails Presidential Candidates in Fundraising

by | October 16, 2015

By Maddie Hanna

Gov. Christie's presidential campaign raised $4.2 million in the three-month period ending Sept. 30 and spent $2.8 million, according to a campaign-finance filing Thursday.

The figures marked the first disclosure of Christie's fund-raising as a candidate, and fell short of the hauls reported by a number of his rivals.

Among the Republican candidates, neurosurgeon Ben Carson raised $20.7 million, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush $13.4 million, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina $6.8 million, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio $5.7 million, according to filings or statements by the campaigns.

Just ahead of Christie in third-quarter fund-raising was former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose campaign said he raised $4.4 million.

"Campaigns, at this point, are like start-up companies and donors are like investors who are looking for growth," said Kevin Madden, a GOP strategist who advised 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's campaign. "When a campaign is struggling to attract donors and resources, it becomes more difficult to grow and improve your position in the race."

Christie campaign officials said the governor had been running a lean campaign and making smart investments in early voting states.

"We are on track to be in the best position possible come January and February," said Mike DuHaime, Christie's lead strategist.

Lagging in national polls -- with an average of 1.9 percent support in recent surveys -- Christie was due to attend a campaign fund-raiser in St. Louis on Thursday night.

He is scheduled to open a campaign headquarters in New Hampshire on Friday.

Christie's fund-raising totals came at the filing deadline for campaigns to report their receipts and expenditures for the third quarter.

Christie's campaign filing was posted on the Federal Election Commission's website Thursday evening.

An Inquirer review found a little more than half of Christie's individual contributions came from New Jersey. Nationally, about half of the people who gave to Christie donated the maximum amount allowed, $2,700.

Among the notable donors was Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who hosted a fund-raiser for Christie last month. Jones and other high-ranking Cowboys officials gave more than $8,000 to Christie, a die-hard Dallas fan.

Christie's $1.4 million cash on hand trailed a number of his opponents. Rubio's campaign, for instance, announced Thursday that he would begin the fourth quarter with $11 million cash on hand; Texas Sen. Ted Cruz's campaign raised $12.2 million during the quarter and, with earlier fund-raising, had $13.8 million cash on hand.

But the New Jersey governor likely has enough to continue a ground campaign in New Hampshire -- if the super PAC backing Christie's candidacy will cover the cost of campaign advertising, said Mike Dennehy, a Republican strategist in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"Granted, it's just enough. But it's still enough," said Dennehy, who was a senior adviser to Arizona Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and McCain's New Hampshire campaign manager in 2000. This election cycle, Dennehy was advising former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out of the race last month.

"The key is really just being competitive," Dennehy said. "You don't have to spend as much as Jeb Bush." He said Christie has been running one of the strongest campaigns in New Hampshire.

Christie garnered 7 percent in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll this month of likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters. A September CNN/WMUR poll showed his favorability had improved with New Hampshire GOP voters, from 31 percent in June to 50 percent.

Also Thursday, the super PAC supporting Christie, America Leads, said it had raised $3 million since the second GOP presidential debate last month.

The PAC had raised $11 million as of June 30, when the group made its most recent filing with regulators.

It has spent about $6 million to date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

So-called super political action committees can raise an unlimited amount of money from individuals, corporations, and unions, but they may not coordinate with campaigns.

Christie's campaign raised more money than Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, whose campaign raised $2.5 million, according to filings. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal raised $580,000.

Christie also raised more than businessman Donald Trump, who reported raising $3.9 million.

Candidates no longer in the race also filed reports Thursday.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who dropped out of the race in late September, raised $7.4 million in the third quarter -- and spent $6.4 million.

Perry, who dropped out before Walker last month, raised $280,000 in the third quarter. He spent more than $1.1 million.

Notable Fund-Raising

Reports for the quarter that ended Sept. 30.

CANDIDATE  AMOUNT RAISED CASH ON HAND
Ben Carson $20.8 million $11.3 million
Jeb Bush $13.4 million $10.3 million
Ted Cruz $12.2 million   $13.8 million
Carly Fiorina $6.8 million $5.5 million
Marco Rubio $5.7 million $11 million
Chris Christie $4.2 million $1.4 million
Donald Trump $3.9 million $255,000
Hillary Clinton  $29.9 million $33 million
Bernie Sanders $26.2 million $27.1 million
SOURCE: Federal Election Commission

Inquirer staff writers Andrew Seidman and Dylan Purcell contributed to this article.

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