Buttigieg seizes on top-tier status by raising $24.8 million in second quarter

Democratic candidate, Pete Buttigieg. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Pete Buttigieg raised $24.8 million from 294,000 people in the second quarter of 2019, his campaign said in an email Monday, a massive haul for a candidate that was largely unknown six months ago.

The South Bend, Indiana, mayor enters the third quarter of the year with $22.6 million cash on hand, campaign press secretary Chris Meagher said, and the campaign's donor base has grown to 400,000 total unique donors for the entire campaign, with 230,000 new in the second quarter. Buttigieg's average contribution size for the cycle is $47.42, the aide added.

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The sizable amount, more than triple his first quarter take, did not come easily. Buttigieg, more than any other candidate not named Joe Biden, has spent considerable time raising money at top-dollar, in-person fundraisers over the last three months.

Buttigieg headlined over 70 in-person fundraisers this quarter, including over a dozen large "grassroots" events that blend the size of a large campaign rally with the cash generation power of a fundraiser, an aide told CNN. Chasten Buttigieg, the mayor's husband, has also become a draw on the fundraising circuit and has headlined a handful of events himself, too.

But the work paid off, as Buttigieg's second quarter haul dwarfs the $7 million the candidate raised in the first three months of 2019.

"This fundraising report shows that Pete's message is resonating with Americans, and it's proof that we are building an organization that can compete," his campaign manager wrote.

Buttigieg announced a presidential exploratory committee with little fanfare and just a handful of staffers in January. But after a well-received CNN town hall in March, Buttigieg caught considerable momentum and his campaign fought to keep up. The candidate now has over 20 full-time staffers working on fundraising, including some based in deep-pocketed areas like New York, California and the Washington, DC, area.

Because the second quarter of 2019 was the first full quarter in which Buttigieg was considered a top-tier candidate, campaign aides and top donors expected the haul to be sizable. A host of top Buttigieg donors who have been in regular contact with the campaign told CNN in June that they expected the mayor to raise more than $15 million in the second quarter.

The Buttigieg campaign set a goal of $15 million -- just more than double the $7 million it raised in the first quarter -- at the start of April, according to a source familiar with the strategy. But the quarter has been more successful than anticipated and the campaign spent the final three weeks of the quarter trying to eclipse its goal.

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Some of that effort was complicated by turmoil in South Bend after a white officer shot and killed a black man who was allegedly breaking into cars while wielding a knife. Buttigieg canceled his appearance at a host of fundraisers in California as he stayed in Indiana to respond to the officer involved shooting. But it is unlikely the cancellations significantly impacted the mayor's haul because almost all of the events were fully sold out weeks earlier, meaning the money had already entered Buttigieg's campaign account.

Buttigieg will continue to spend considerable time on the fundraising circuit this month, according to fundraiser invites obtained by CNN.

The mayor will headline an event in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Friday, before headlining multiple events on Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket on Saturday, according to the invites.

Bryan Rafanelli and Mark Walsh, two longtime Democratic donors with deep ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton, will host the Provincetown event. The Nantucket event on Saturday will be hosted by Hollywood producer Armyan Bernstein and his wife, Christine Meleo Bernstein; Rufus Gifford, a well-known Democratic donor who was ambassador to Denmark during the Obama administration; and Gerry Schwartz, a billionaire Canadian investor, and his philanthropist wife, Heather Reisman.

Buttigieg will then headline a "grassroots" conversation on Martha's Vineyard on Saturday, followed by a $2,800-a-guest dinner event later that evening.

He will then travel back to the Washington, DC, area for at least one event on July 10, and then head to Kansas City for a fundraiser on July 16.

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By Dan Merica, CNN via The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

The Gayly. 7/1/2019 @10 a.m. CST.