April 23, 2019

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Why Elizabeth Warren, a Presumed Front-Runner, Trails Her Rivals in Fund-Raising

Why Elizabeth Warren, a Presumed Front-Runner, Trails Her Rivals in Fund-Raising
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Ms. Warren’s most immediate challenge, though, may be money. She raised only $299,000 in the first day of her candidacy, far below the $5.9 million and $6.1 million Mr. Sanders and Mr. O’Rourke brought in for the same period and also less than Ms. Harris. In emails to supporters, asking for as little as $3, her campaign flatly says her rivals will post “fund-raising figures we won’t be able to match.”

And after demonstrating little capacity to raise cash online, Ms. Warren effectively doubled down on small-dollar contributions, announcing last month that she would no longer hold big-money fund-raisers or seek wealthy donors to bundle hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks.

She cast it as a decision long in the making that will offer her more time with voters. In truth, she made the choice only after a robust debate inside her campaign that led to the resignation of her finance director, Michael Pratt, who strenuously objected to the idea.

At a Valentine’s Day meeting at Ms. Warren’s Washington condominium that began with a heart-shaped cake but soon grew heated, Mr. Pratt noted that campaigns often collapse when they run out of money and pleaded with her not to cut off a significant cash stream, according to Democrats briefed on the conversation. He pointed out that winning over wealthy fund-raisers across the country helped build networks that could translate into political support, not just checks.

But Mr. Pratt lost the argument to two of Ms. Warren’s closest advisers, Dan Geldon and Joe Rospars, who made the case about standing apart from the field and freeing up her schedule.

Mr. Pratt is not the only veteran adviser absent from this campaign. Among the others who are not involved are Mindy Myers, who ran the winning Senate race against Mr. Brown in 2012 and became chief of staff; the pollster Tom Kiley; and two ad makers, Mandy Grunwald and Marla Romash. (Mr. Kiley retired and Ms. Grunwald has another client in the race, Senator Amy Klobuchar).

Ms. Warren chose not to air the ads Ms. Grunwald and Ms. Romash made for her Senate re-election last year, determining that she was better off husbanding her resources than trying to establish herself with New Hampshire voters who live in the Boston media market. That saved her much of the cash she has since transferred to her presidential campaign, but it has also left her lagging in early New Hampshire polls.

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