Daily Camera (Boulder)

Nikki Haley keeping early fundraisin­g numbers quiet

- By Meg Kinnard The Associated Press

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley had a busy first week as an official 2024 presidenti­al candidate, announcing in her native state, then hustling to early voting New Hampshire and Iowa and going on a media blitz.

But as fundraisin­g starts to build for the potential GOP field, she’s running into a possible home state conflict: donors waiting for the anticipate­d entrance of Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Both Republican­s are popular among the state’s voters, and some previous Haley donors have said they’re waiting to see if Scott — stockpilin­g cash that he could ultimately transfer into a presidenti­al bid — enters the race.

For now, Haley, who also served as United Nations ambassador during the Trump administra­tion, hasn’t revealed how much money she’s taken in since her Feb. 15 launch. Her campaign told The Associated Press it was “enormously pleased with our initial fundraisin­g” but would wait until a April 15 deadline to report a figure for the full first quarter.

That’s raising some eyebrows. Campaigns typically use their first receipts as bragging points to show their candidates’ strength. This year, in what is expected to be a crowded GOP field, donors are looking closely at initial fundraisin­g to assess staying power amid a fierce competitio­n for cash.

Former President Donald Trump, the first announced GOP presidenti­al candidate in the 2024 race, entered the campaign with tens of millions of dollars in the bank but hasn’t released numbers since the end of last year. According to federal filings, the Save America Joint Fundraisin­g Committee — the primary fundraisin­g vehicle for his campaign and his leadership PAC — had more than $3.5 million on hand. Make America Great Again Inc., a super PAC that supports Trump, had $54 million in its coffers.

In the 2020 presidenti­al campaign, several in the broad Democratic field released fundraisin­g for their first 24 hours as candidates. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders raised nearly $6 million in his first 24 hours, a sum eclipsed a few months later by former Texas Rep. Beto O’rourke’s $6.1 million. Then-california Sen. Kamala Harris took in $1.5 million on her first day.

Ken Christense­n, CEO of Washington-based The Politics Company Inc., a Democratic messaging and fundraisin­g firm, said there are reasons a candidate would want to keep initial fundraisin­g numbers quiet before the Federal Election Commission deadline.

“Maybe they are simply not raising impressive numbers,” Christense­n said. “Or they simply want to pull in as much money as possible before the next FEC reporting period, trying to build a big number for the next FEC report.”

Typical of all campaigns,

Haley has been pursuing donations with phone calls and supporter gatherings, as well as text and email lists.

Shortly after her announceme­nt, she had the kind of viral moment a Republican can only dream about: a CNN host saying that, as a 51-year-old woman, she was “past her prime” — a comment off which she immediatel­y began fundraisin­g.

Within hours of the remark by Don Lemon during a discussion of Haley’s call for mandatory mental competency tests for politician­s over 75, she emailed a fundraisin­g appeal to supporters, decrying him as a “CNN liberal” and including a link to the video clip.

Days later, she followed up with text and email alerts to supporters, advertisin­g drink koozies with the message, “Past my prime? Hold my beer” — free with $3 shipping fees.

Through a political action committee created two years before her presidenti­al campaign, Haley took in more than $17 million, according to federal records, nearly $15 million of which went to operating expenses, like consultant services, staff payroll and rent. About half a million was transferre­d to other candidates for last year’s midterm elections, leaving her PAC with about $2 million at the end of last year. What about Scott? Running last fall in what he’s said would be his final Senate campaign, Scott raised $43 million, ending the year with nearly $22 million on hand.

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