Biden seeks campaign cash in California

Biden seeks campaign cash in California
© Aaron Schwartz

Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE is headed to California later this month for a trio of high-dollar fundraisers, seeking to solidify his status as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination with a strong second-quarter haul. 

An invite obtained by The Hill shows that Biden will first be honored on June 28 at a fundraiser in Belvedere, Calif., hosted by Leni and Marriner Eccles, longtime Democratic National Committee fundraisers. 

That same evening, he will attend another fundraiser at the home of Dawn Ross and Doug Hickey, a bundler for former President Obama who owns a beverage distribution company, and the following day he will be the guest of honor at former Twitter executive Katie Jacobs Stanton’s home. 

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All three fundraisers in Silicon Valley — a popular spot for Democratic candidates looking to fill their campaign coffers — require guests to pay $2,800 per person to attend. 

The fundraisers are part of a crucial month for the former vice president, who will also share a debate stage for the first time next week with a host of rivals seeking to catch him, including Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (I-Vt.) and Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (D-Calif.) and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegBiden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll Analysis: Harris, Buttigieg and Trump lead among California donations The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE. 

Major Democratic donors and fundraisers expect Biden — who is spending time in New York this week to attend fundraisers — to raise at least $20 million, with some putting expectations at $25 million. 

While Biden entered the race to questions about his fundraising ability, he has met or exceeded expectations so far. 

The former vice president raised $6.3 million in the first 24 hours of the campaign, and at one fundraising event in Los Angeles last month he raised $700,000. 

Allies say Biden needs a big number to signal to the rest of the field — and to donors and Democratic voters — that he remains the candidate to beat. It’s particularly important given Biden’s campaign strategy, which revolves around the argument that Democrats should back him as the strongest opponent against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE.

“If you’re the front-runner, you’ve got to be the front-runner,” said one major Democratic donor. “You’ve got to be No. 1 at everything, and that includes fundraising.” 

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“If he reveals a number that’s good but trails some of the other candidates, that presents a problem for him,” the donor added. “That shows a definitive weak spot, and that’s something other candidates will be able to highlight.”

While Biden has consistently led national and swing state polls, he’s faced questions about how strong his support is. The vice president hasn’t had huge crowds at his events, and doubters suggest there is little enthusiasm or passion for his campaign.

A disappointing fundraising showing would bolster such criticisms and could lead voters and donors to give more serious looks to Sanders, Buttigieg, Harris or Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren adds her pronouns to Twitter bio Biden leads, Warren and Sanders tied for second in new poll The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants MORE (D-Mass.), who has gained momentum over the last several weeks.

Buttigieg, in particular, has excited Democrats and big donors alike. The South Bend mayor is seen as a centrist, but also represents a new political generation. He’s selling out fundraisers and has tacked on other events to continue to raise money. 

On Monday, Politico reported that Buttigieg raised $7 million in April, an amount that amazed Democratic donors who supported Obama’s historic campaign in 2008. 

“He’s one of the few candidates donors are really excited about,” another prominent Democratic donor said. 

“In any other year, with any other incumbent president in office, Buttigieg or Warren may very well be the front-runners,” the donor added. “But it’s a different kind of year.”

Since launching his campaign in April, Biden has led in every major poll. A poll out on Monday by The Hill and HarrisX showed the former vice president leading Sanders, his closest competitor, by 22 points nationally. 

Besides looking at how much money Biden raises, donors will be looking to see if he is able to reach small donors. 

“Much more defining and impactful than the polling numbers is the broad base of support these candidates show through their donations,” said Robert Zimmerman, a prominent Democratic donor. “The candidate who can demonstrate strong national support among small-dollar donors and can also reach out to traditional Democratic donors will become the front-runner.” 

Biden allies say they realize all eyes will be on their candidate when the second quarter ends at the end of June and campaigns release their fundraising figures. 

“It won’t be the defining moment, obviously, but it’ll be a moment we can point to to emphasize that the VP has what it takes to be the front-runner,” one ally said. 

The first Democratic donor said that for Biden to be successful in the race, he must prove that he’s got more than just fundraising chops. 

“What we learned from Jeb Bush in 2016 is, money alone doesn’t do it,” the donor said. “You need a good debate performance, strong grass-roots support and then some.”