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Presidential candidate Ryan faces a gigantic fundraising challenge

By David Skolnick

Friday, April 19, 2019

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan’s presidential campaign isn’t revealing how much money it has raised since the congressman’s April 4 announcement he was running for the highest office in the land.

But his most recent House report, filed earlier this week with the Federal Election Commission, shows there should be some concern about his ability to raise the money needed to run a successful presidential effort.

Ryan of Howland, D-13th, has never been a strong fundraiser during his time in Congress.

Ryan’s fundraising has been less than the average House member’s totals in every election cycle back to his first race in 2002, according to a recent CQ Roll Call article.

That same report says Ryan receives little from donors who give under $200 – just 8.3 percent of the money he raised in 2018 came from them. Those donors are key in the 2020 presidential election.

The recent House report shows Ryan had only $67,192 in that account as of March 31.

He raised $73,939 and spent $124,941 during the first three months of the year.

Ryan is running for president and re-election to the House next year.

He obviously has a much better chance of winning his House race than the presidential primary next year. If he pulls out of the presidential race Ryan can transfer the money raised for that campaign to his House account.

Julia Krieger, Ryan’s presidential campaign spokeswoman, was clear in saying the two accounts “are completely separate. They’re not related.”

I’m sure Ryan has raised a decent amount of money since his April 4 presidential announcement, but it can’t be close to the amounts the better known candidates have collected.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont leads the money race with $18 million, followed by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California with $12 million, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas with $9.4 million and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg with $7 million.

Further down the list are Washington Gov. Jay Inslee with $2.2 million, ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper with $2 million and Julian Castro, a former secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development, with $1.1 million.

When I asked Ryan about how much money he would need for a presidential bid, he didn’t give specifics. But he said he needs to raise millions of dollars.

“We’re going to need enough to have enough staff and to travel and get people in Iowa and New Hampshire to get our numbers to where we get on stage in June for the debates and have a moment,” Ryan said. “That’s the key. If you have a moment you can raise those low-dollar donations around the country.”

Krieger told me that Ryan’s presidential campaign wouldn’t disclose how much it has raised until July 15, the deadline to report the second quarter fundraising amounts.

She did say that the campaign would acknowledge when it reaches 65,000 donors.

That’s a reference to qualifying for the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami on June 26 and 27 – with lineups of 10 for each day chosen at random.

To get on the debate stage, which is needed for any Democrat to win the nomination, candidates need to have at least 1 percent support in three qualifying polls, or show he has at least 65,000 unique donors with a minimum of 200 different donors in at least 20 states.

If more than 20 candidates reach one of those two qualifications, the top 20 would be selected by a method that rewards candidates for meeting both, followed by highest polling averages and then the most unique donors.

Ryan is polling at 1 to 2 percent now. He needs to get that number up. Campaigning in early presidential states and appearing on national television will help. It will also assist him in raising the money he needs to qualify.

As for his first quarter congressional finance reports, there are a number of interesting items.

The campaign spent $2,166 on airfare, $549 for a stay at the Hyatt Regency in Washington, D.C., and $363 in lodging at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manchester, N.H. Ryan was back in New Hampshire, the state with the first presidential primary in the nation, last week campaigning for president.

The House campaign also spent money for a storage facility in Warren and for subscriptions to Sirius XM Radio and to the Christian Science Monitor.

It also paid $3,030 for “leased car insurance,” and paid $741 on both Jan. 3 and Feb. 4 to GM Finance Leasing for a leased car and $1,481 on March 1 to Sweeney Chevrolet for a leased car.

One of the big-ticket items was $26,132 to Perkins Coie LLP, a Seattle law firm, for legal services. Perkins Coie is the law firm for most Democratic members of Congress.