DNC turns to 2020 candidates for fundraising help in fourth quarter as committee struggles to raise cash

Key Points
  • The Democratic National Committee, which is struggling to keep up with its Republican counterpart's fundraising pace, is turning to 2020 presidential candidates for help raising cash in the pivotal fourth quarter.
  • Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Tom Steyer and Julian Castro will be taking part in fundraising events in October that will benefit the DNC.
  • The latest filings show that the Republican National Committee raised just over $23 million in August and has $53 million on hand, while the DNC brought in $7.9 million and has $7.2 million in debt
2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Senator Bernie Sanders, Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Kamala Harris, Andrew Yang, founder of Venture for America, Beto O'Rourke, and Julian Castro, Development (HUD), debate in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019.
Callaghan O'Hare | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Democratic National Committee, which is struggling to keep up with its Republican counterpart's fundraising pace, is turning to 2020 presidential candidates for help raising cash in the pivotal fourth quarter.

In an email to donors and forwarded to CNBC, Chris Lowe, the committee's deputy national finance chair, listed two events in New York in October that will feature Sen. Kamala Harris and former Secretary of Housing, Julian Castro. Harris' fundraiser is dubbed the "DNC Chairman's Dinner."

Separately, a DNC aide sent CNBC a list of other events this month, which will include a "chairman's dinner" in San Francisco with billionaire candidate Tom Steyer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren headlining the "Women Will Vote Gala." Warren's event will coincide with the Women's Leadership Forum Conference in Washington. All proceeds for these fundraisers go to the DNC and the party's infrastructure, the aide added.

Warren has sworn off having her campaign take part in big money fundraisers. Tickets for Warren's gala go up to $5,000 and others can gain access by raising up to $50,000 for the party, according to an online portal that allows attendees to buy tickets. Those who raise the five figure sum will receive 10 VIP tickets to the fundraiser.

The DNC aide explained that for the donor events, tickets range from $100 to $50,000. After publication, this same aide said that they sold tickets to the Warren DNC fundraiser for $100. DNC Chairman Tom Perez will be in attendance for Harris and Steyer's dinners, this person added.

The latest Federal Election Commission filings show that in August, the Republican National Committee raised just over $23 million and have $53 million on hand, while the DNC brought in $7.9 million and had $7.2 million in debt. Meanwhile, Trump and the RNC combined in the third quarter to raise over $125 million.

While this would not mark the first time the DNC has hosted candidates for fundraisers this cycle, the October donor meetings coincide with a moment when the Republican National Committee are seeing a boom in fundraising while the DNC has seen a dip as their candidates battle it out in a primary.

Harris, Castro and Steyer are much lower in the polls than Warren, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders. For all the contenders, these occasions give candidates a chance to connect with donors who have yet to give to their campaigns. Sanders had the biggest third quarter haul with $25 million. Warren announced her $24.6 million take on Friday. Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled in $19 million, while Biden raised $15 million.

Ian Sams, a spokesman for Harris, insisted the proceeds from her dinner will only go to the DNC and noted that she had a committee based event earlier this summer in her home state of California. Alberto Lammers, a spokesman for Steyer, said they plan to review the guest list before their event to make sure no fossil fuel executives attend. Steyer was one of many candidates who signed the no fossil fuel money pledge.

"It's a small event focused on climate and the campaign will review the list to make sure fossil fuel executives are not included," Lammers said.

Representatives for all the other candidates that are being featured in fundraising events this month did not return requests for comment.

Veteran Democratic donors have taken notice of the party's struggle to raise cash and argue that it's due to a lack of cohesion around a single candidate. There are close to 20 participants in the primary.

"It's a standard off year fundraising challenge. No candidate, hard to get good surrogates for fundraising," Rufus Gifford, President Barack Obama's 2012 fundraising chief, told CNBC. "This will change when we have a candidate, but when will that be? Will it be too late?"

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