By Josh Lederman - 10/11/11 12:08 AM EDT
Elizabeth Warren (D) raised more than $3 million in a little more than six weeks to fund her Senate bid in Massachusetts — more than twice the figure pulled in by incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R) in third-quarter fundraising.
The astounding figure anchors the notion that Warren will be a formidable candidate both in the Democratic primary and — if she wins the primary — against Brown.
Brown raised $1.55 million in the last three months — almost half of Warren’s total in twice the amount of time. But Brown, who boasted a hefty war chest heading into his reelection campaign, now has more than $10 million in the bank.
The outsize money numbers in Massachusetts signal the potentially explosive nature of this Senate race, adding fuel to a high-stakes competition that is quickly becoming a proxy war between national Democratic and Republican groups. Democrats see Brown’s Senate seat as their most promising opportunity of 2012.
“With the big banks and special interests lining up against us, we know it's going to take a strong, grassroots campaign to win,” Warren said in an email to supporters.
“These are pretty amazing numbers,” she said in the email.
Warren also demonstrated the ability to cast a wide net instead of relying on big-figure donations; only one in 20 contributions were for more than $100, the campaign said.
“Very impressive. That means the big guns haven’t even started raising,” said Lou DiNatale, a Democratic political analyst in Massachusetts.
A Warren campaign aide told The Hill that while some of the money started flowing in after Warren launched an exploratory committee Aug. 18, the vast majority was raised after she officially entered the race on Sept. 14. The third quarter fundraising period encompasses July, August and September.
Brown’s $1.5 million was also no small feat.
“Scott Brown had another strong fundraising quarter and he will have the resources he needs to get out his strong pro-jobs message and run against whomever emerges as the Democratic nominee,” said John Cook, finance director for Brown’s campaign.
Since announcing her campaign, Warren has catapulted to the head of the pack of Democrats vying to take on Brown. A Western New England University poll conducted Sept. 29-Oct. 5 showed that Warren has pulled within a few points of Brown in a general-election match-up.
“There’s a fundamental advantage that Brown had in this race, which was the fundraising edge. And now it looks like she’s going to be able to catch him in the fundraising side of this equation,” DiNatale said.
But Brown will likely have the support of national Republican campaign groups loath to give up their control over a Senate seat in Democratic-leaning Massachusetts steeped in symbolism — Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) held the seat for more than four decades until he died in 2009. Brown won the seat in a special election.
While Warren still faces a crowded primary before taking on Brown, none of the other Democratic candidates have been able to incite the level of enthusiasm that Warren has generated in a matter of weeks. Multiple polls show her at the top of the field of Democrats, and her fundraising figures indicate she might be able to bury them with cash.
Alan Khazei, one of Warren's primary opponents, was the master fundraiser during the primary race leading up to the 2010 special election that put Brown in office. He surprised many with his ability to pull in big dollars, but lost in the primary to state Attorney General Martha Coakley, who in turn lost to Brown.
Warren outperformed Khazei by almost 10 to one in fundraising for her first quarter as a candidate. Khazei’s campaign said he would report raising $365,000, bringing his total for the past six months to $1.3 million. He has three-quarters of a million dollars in cash and no debt.
There were seven candidates in the primary, but two have already dropped out since Warren entered the race. Democrats Setti Warren (no relation to Elizabeth Warren) and Bob Massie both cited the intense momentum behind Warren as the reason they no longer saw a viable path to victory.
Warren is also benefiting from major Democratic groups, including PACs, fundraising on her behalf. EMILY's List, a group that supports Democratic females who favor abortion rights, has been vocally campaigning for her, as has the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), which has already raised more than $400,000 for Warren.
“This is what happens when candidates boldly take on Wall Street and corporate interests — they are rewarded with massive grassroots support,” said Adam Green, co-founder of PCCC. “Hopefully other Democratic politicians are taking notice.”
Brown is also receiving campaign donations from PACs.
A former consumer protection advocate under President Obama, Warren was aggressively courted by Democrats in Washington and Massachusetts to run for Senate. She serves on the faculty of Harvard Law School, and was instrumental in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Both Brown and her Democratic primary opponents have worked to portray her as an establishment figure out of touch with average Massachusetts citizens and beholden to Obama.