Rubio Breaks Own Fund-Raising Record in 3Q
Around the State
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio outdid himself in the fund-raising quarter that ended Sept. 30, raising $5 million in the three-month period to break the record he set last quarter for highest quarterly fund-raising haul in Florida history.
Rubio’s take, announced Wednesday afternoon by his campaign, put the former speaker of the Florida House among the most prolific cash collectors nationally this year. The numbers also again provided a stark reminder of how much the Senate race has changed since Rubio announced he was challenging Gov. Charlie Crist – then the GOP front-runner – and promptly was outraised by Crist 12-to-1 back in 2009.
Crist, now running as an independent, has not released his third-quarter totals, though his quarterly fund-raising has fallen drastically since he took in $4.3 million in his first quarter in the Senate race. Crist’s early haul prompted rumors that Rubio, who raised just $340,000 during that period, would quit the race and run for attorney general. Rubio responded to the wide disparity by replacing his fund-raising team.
Now, Rubio is leading in many polls and has $5.5 million left in the bank for the final month of campaign, his campaign said.
“This campaign started at the grass-roots, was fueled by the grass-roots, and when we win on Election Day it’s going to be because of the grass-roots, the best candidate and the best message,” Rubio spokesman Todd Harris said. “While we still fully expect this final report to show us trailing Crist in cash on hand, we are confident we will have the resources to meet or exceed whatever our opponents are spending on television during October.
“With close to 100,000 donors, the size and enthusiasm of our donor base gives us a virtually unlimited pool of support we can return to again and again over the final stretch of this campaign,” Harris concluded.
Nationally, few Senate candidates not running against largely self-financed opponents have topped Rubio’s $16 million take-in for the entire campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.com, Sens. John McCain, Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold have raised $26 million, $19 million, $18 million and $13 million respectively for the cycle to date.
Connecticut self-funder Linda McMahon also topped Rubio with $22 million.
Rubio's campaign pointed out Wednesday that 99 percent of its donors have not reached the maximum contribution. The campaign said the average contribution between July and September was $80.21.
Rubio's growth in fund-raising mirrors his stunning rise in polling in the Senate race. Crist led the Republican primary by as many as 30 points in the summer of 2009, and the governor led several general-election polls this summer after being a consistent figure on television during the Gulf Coast oil spill.
However, that has changed now. Even before Rubio released his eye-popping fund-raising totals Wednesday, a Washington, D.C.-based newspaper pondered if it was too late for Crist and Democrat Kendrick Meek to catch up to Rubio.
“Meek has struggled to solidify Democrats behind his candidacy. So has Crist, who had hoped his independent bid could peel off enough Democratic support to overtake Rubio,” the article in Politico said. “And Rubio has been able to take advantage of a race that’s been more or less locked in place for months, with him holding a comfortable lead.”
A poll released last week by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University showed Rubio leading Crist and Meek 46 to 33 to 18 percent lead, though a Zogby poll this week showed Rubio up just 6 points.
Additionally, Crist has faced lawsuits from donors seeking to get back contributions they made when he was running as a Republican. Crist raised about $7.5 million in the campaign, most of which came when he was still the titular head of the state GOP.
Rubio, Crist and Meek are scheduled to debate Wednesday evening in Orlando.
RUBIO’S FUNDRAISING, BY QUARTER
- 2009 - Q2: $340,000 -- Q3: $1 million -- Q4: $1.75 million
- 2010 - Q1: $3.6 million -- Q2: $4.5 million -- Q3: $5 million