ShareThis Page
Carson, Sanders, Cruz keep pace in campaign with grass-roots funds |

Carson, Sanders, Cruz keep pace in campaign with grass-roots funds

| Saturday, October 17, 2015 7:09 p.m

NEW YORK — Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, this was supposed to be the era of big money in politics. It’s proving to be the era of small money, too.

Establishment candidates for the presidency such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, who rely on the traditional dinner-party fundraising circuit to collect stacks of $2,700 checks, are being upstaged in the money race. Ben Carson, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are turning their popularity with their parties’ grass-roots supporters into cash, piled in smaller increments, often over the Internet.

Carson, a retired brain surgeon who has never held public office, led the Republican field in fundraising for the quarter that ended in September. His $21 million included $12 million in contributions of less than $200. Sanders’ $26 million, gathered mostly from under-$200 donors, almost equaled Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton’s total.

“There are just more small donors in the action because they think this time they’re in control,” said Kellyanne Conway, a Republican pollster in New York who runs a super PAC that supports Cruz. “It’s a contest between electability and electricity, and electricity is winning.”

The avalanche of super PAC money unleashed by Citizens United and subsequent court decisions in 2010 remains a critical factor in the race. Bush, who has gathered only $25 million for his campaign since declaring his candidacy in June, spent much of the first half of the year assembling a $102 million super PAC. These vehicles can raise unlimited sums from individuals and corporations as long as they don’t coordinate certain types of spending with a campaign.

The limitations of unlimited money were brought into focus in September, when the campaigns of Republicans Rick Perry and Scott Walker collapsed. Both had the backing of super PACs with millions of dollars still in the bank, but a drought of traditional campaign cash left them unable to fund the basic necessities of running for office, such as airline tickets and payroll.

Categories: Politics Election
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.