U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s fundraising totals for the second quarter of her Democratic presidential campaign landed her in second place among the second-tier candidates.
Her five top-ranked competitors — measured by their war chests and poll standings — are former Vice President Joe Biden, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
There’s a wide gulf between those candidates and the rest of the Democratic field. Among the trailing contenders, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker collected the most cash in April, May and June: $4.5 million. Klobuchar was next with $3.87 million. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised $3.6 million.
“The question is not so much where does she stand in the second tier, but how viable is the second tier at all,” said Connor Farrell, CEO of Left Rising, a Michigan-based progressive fundraising company that’s not working for any presidential campaign.
Still, he and other Democratic strategists and donors think Klobuchar has time to improve her standing with a Democratic base looking for a candidate who can unseat President Donald Trump in 2020.
She could make a splash in the July 30-31 debate, Farrell said, move up in polls or have a viral moment at a town hall. “She has, in my opinion, a very good case to make,” he said.
Harris tangled with Biden over his record on race in the first debate, boosting her media attention and poll ratings and resulting in $2 million in online donations in the first 24 hours after the encounter.
Mike Erlandson, a former state DFL Party chairman and a Klobuchar supporter, said that she is still “clearly in the hunt. … She’s still competitive and in the end it may not be money that decides who will be the choice. I think it’s going to be appeal and engagement.”
Klobuchar ended the quarter with $6.7 million. She spent $4.1 million — more than she raised. Between Feb. 10, when she joined the race, and March 31, she raised $5.2 million.
After a speech in Washington on Tuesday, Klobuchar told the Star Tribune that she was satisfied with the new numbers. “You always want more funding, but I think we are in a good place,” she said.
“I’m not from a big state and have not run for president before like Sanders or Biden,” she said. “The fact that we have 35 staff members in Iowa and over 20 in New Hampshire — that’s good. I feel good.”
She’s confident she’ll accumulate the required 130,000 donors and 2% support in at least four qualifying polls to be onstage for the September debates.
A CNN Poll taken in New Hampshire that was released Tuesday didn’t seem promising for the Minnesota Democrat. It found that 49% in the state don’t know enough about her to form an opinion or weren’t sure. Her support among likely Democratic voters was at zero, down from 4% in February and 2% in April. The state’s primary is Feb. 11.
Biden had the most support in the poll at 24%, followed by Sanders and Warren.
Jonathan Mantz, national finance director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, said that Klobuchar’s “message has been solid, her performance has been solid.” He’s now at BGR Government Affairs, a bipartisan Washington company.
Her well-reviewed showing in last month’s first debate and ability to attract donors outside Minnesota put her “on the right path,” he said.
But it’s unclear whether she’s “on a path where she’s traveling fast enough to catch up with the first tier. Her fund-raising will certainly need to pick up to get into that top three, top five” in Iowa’s Feb. 3 caucuses.
Klobuchar’s White House bid is “at a crossroads,” said Grant Woodard, a Des Moines lawyer and former political operative. “People like her, people respect her,” he said, “but I don’t know if people see the fire that they want in a candidate at this point.”
Ultimately, Woodard said, “most people will make their decision on whether or not they think you can win the presidency. Is Bernie electable, is Warren too liberal, is Biden too old?” Klobuchar “is well-liked here. She’s making friends, but I don’t know how well it’s translating into an organization.”
Lou Frillman, a Minneapolis businessman and prominent Democratic donor, was impressed by Klobuchar’s response Tuesday to President Donald Trump’s criticism of four House Democrats, including Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn. The senator called the president’s tweets “reprehensible, racist.”
Klobuchar’s statement “confirms she understands her possibilities and challenges in this field of fine, patriotic candidates,” Frillman said. “Running for president is a long marathon. Only time will reveal our nominee, and will also reveal that money and resources don’t solely drive the race.”
Steve Westly, a former California state controller and 2006 gubernatorial candidate, echoed other Democrats’ questions: “Can Sen. Klobuchar, Julián Castro and Cory Booker stay in the discussion?”
“I like seeing a strong woman from the Midwest who represents the moderate wing of the party,” he said. “She’s positioned for bigger and better things.” He thinks Klobuchar “has the potential … to stand out from the crowd.”
But Westly, a Biden supporter and former Highland Park resident, suggested that she would make a better vice-presidential candidate.
Her name is “double underlined because she has a lot of the attributes we’re looking for to build a strong general election ticket,” he said.
Star Tribune writers Patrick Condon and Torey Van Oot contributed to this report.