Ellison tops Perez in DNC race fundraising

Ellison tops Perez in DNC race fundraising
© Greg Nash

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) has raked in nearly $1 million in donations since launching his bid for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, making him the top fundraiser in the field of seven major candidates.

A campaign source told The Hill that Ellison has raised $815,000 in contributions and $970,000 in total commitments since launching his bid on Nov. 14. Ellison has banked donations from all 50 states, the source said.

"This builds on Keith's strong fundraising legacy as the third highest grassroots fundraiser in the House of Representatives who has raised over one million for his state Democratic Party, and millions more for candidates at levels across the country," a spokesperson for Ellison told The Hill. 

Ellison’s chief rival for DNC chair, former Labor secretary Tom Perez, has $740,000 in cash and $840,000 in total commitments since entering the race on Dec. 15.

Ellison entered the race a month earlier than Perez and got a head start in fundraising.

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Ellison’s campaign said it has received more than 24,000 contributions, with 98 percent coming from donations of $200 or less. Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally Cardi B posts message of support for Ilhan Omar #IStandWithIlhan trends after crowd at Trump rally chants 'send her back' MORE (I-Vt.) has campaigned for Ellison, and small-dollar donations were a hallmark of his insurgent primary campaign.

Politico reported that 73 percent of Perez’s money came from small-dollar contributions of $200 or less.

Those are hefty sums for both candidates as the race to be the next party leader heads into the final stretch.

The DNC’s 447-member body will gather in Atlanta on Feb. 23 to vote for the next national party leader.

The chairman will play a critical role in determining the direction of a party still reeling from Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton slams Trump rally: 'The time has come again' to fight for democracy Trump blasts minority Democrats, rally crowd chants 'send her back' The Memo: Democrats debate Trump response – 'Being righteous and losing sucks' MORE’s election loss.

Many DNC members haven’t yet gone public about which candidate they'll support. The election is expected to go down to the wire between Ellison and Perez.

Ellison has racked up scores of endorsements from lawmakers on Capitol Hill and major labor groups, like the AFL-CIO.

But many of those endorsers do not have a vote in the contest.

On Wednesday, former Vice President Biden shook the race by announcing his support for Perez.

"We have a lot of good people vying for this important job,” Biden said in a statement. “But I do think for this moment and in this time, Tom Perez is our best bet to help bring the party back. I’ve watched him work. I think I know his heart.”

Many Democrats have suspected that top Obama administration officials privately preferred Perez, who was Obama’s Labor secretary, to Ellison.

Sanders fired back at Biden in a statement.

"The question is simple: Do we stay with a failed status-quo approach or do we go forward with a fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party?” Sanders said. “I say we go forward and create a grassroots party which speaks for working people and is prepared to stand up to the top 1 percent. That’s why we have to support Keith Ellison."

Those divisions have reignited talk about how the DNC chair race has become a proxy war between the progressive left and establishment Democrats.

But many Democrats have tried to squash that line of thinking, fearing it could lead to a replay of the bitter primary between Sanders and Clinton.