Booker’s latest $4.5M haul trails presidential rivals in fight for campaign cash

WASHINGTON  Cory Booker, trailing his Democratic presidential rivalsin the polls, continues to trail them in fundraising as well.

The New Jersey senator Booker brought in just $4.5 million during the last three months, well behind the early party frontrunners, according to his campaign finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission. He entered July with $5.4 million in the bank.

In contrast, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg all reported bringing in at least $10 million from April to July.

Booker’s totals came despite a big-ticket fundraiser with Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democratic congressional delegation, and one hosted bySouth Jersey political power broker George Norcross and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.

Norcross and his brother, Rep. Donald Norcross, D-1st Dist., were among the donors to Booker’s account, according to So too were Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, and Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., Frank Pallone Jr., D-6th Dist., Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist.

Booker’s girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, also appeared on his list of campaign contributors, as did actor Ben Affleck and actress Alicia Silverstone.

To date, Booker has raised $12.4 million, including $2.7 million transferred from his Senate committee.

Booker Campaign Manager Addisu Demissie emphasized the effort to build a base of small-dollar contributors. He said the campaign committee added 72,000 new donors in the last three months.

“In February, we set out to build a grassroots campaign fueled by small donations," Demissie said. "We’re proud of the tremendous progress we’ve made towards that goal and are happy that we have the resources we need to continue investing in our growing organizing effort. Presidential primaries are won on the ground, in the early states. And we’re in a position to be successful.”

The campaign said Booker had raised $1 million in the last week of June following his well-received performance in the first presidential debate.

Even so, Booker has struggled to gain support. The Real Clear Politics poll average put him at just 1.8 percent, tied with businessman Andrew Yang for eighth place, and he received just 1 percent in both the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal and Washington Post/ABC News surveys.

He needs to receive at least 2 percent in four separate surveys from June 28 to Aug. 28 and take in contributions from at least 130,000 individuals to qualify for the third presidential debate, scheduled for September in Houston. Booker has qualified for the second debate in Detroit later this month.

Booker appears to have already met the polling requirements for the September debate, receiving 3 percent in national surveys by Quinnipiac University and CNN, 3 percent in a South Carolina poll by Fox News, and 2 percent in a New Hampshire USA Today-Suffolk University poll.

The campaign said Monday he was still short of meeting the donor threshold.

Pollsters say it is still very early and most voters have yet to pay attention to the race.

And Booker has received high marks from political consultants for the organizations he has put together in the early voting states, and he recently picked up some key endorsements there.

The pro-Booker super political action committee, Dream United, said it had raised $1.125 million from three donors: $1 million from Susan Sandler; $100,000 from Boykin Curry, a partner Eagle Capital, an investment firm; and $25,000 from Eunu Chun, a New York lawyer.

“Over the past six months, I have traveled across the country meeting with dozens of Cory Booker supporters, and based on those conversations, I am confident we will be able to conduct a $5-$10 million voter mobilization effort in support of Booker’s candidacy,” said Steve Phillips, a San Francisco lawyer and civil rights activist who attended Stanford University with Booker and runs the super PAC.

The money will go to contact 500,000 African-American voters in connection with Booker’s campaign, Phillips said.

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