By Ben Wieder
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Joe Biden just posted the best fundraising numbers of his campaign — thanks in part to the big donors of his vanquished opponents.
The former vice president raised nearly $1 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 from more than 950 contributors who had previously given to a Democratic presidential candidate who is no longer in the race, a McClatchy analysis of new campaign finance records found.
Biden received the biggest boost from former financial backers of Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the race in early December. Nearly 400 donors to the California senator's White House bid collectively poured in close to $400,000 to Biden's campaign in the final three months of last year.
Alex Heckler, a Miami-based lawyer and deputy national finance chair for the Democratic National Committee, and his wife, Tiffany, had signed on to raise funds for Harris before Biden entered the race. But with her departure, Alex Heckler, who served as a bundler for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Barack Obama in 2012, decided to throw his support behind Biden, writing him a $2,800 check in late December and tapping his extensive fundraising contacts to raise money for the campaign.
"I had a personal relationship with Sen. Harris and I thought she was the best to win the nomination," Heckler said. "My number one priority is beating Donald Trump and that only happens, in my opinion, if the nominee is Joe Biden."
For Sacramento attorney and former Obama bundler Brooks Cutter, it was also a natural transition from Harris to Biden.
"I didn't really need to be recruited," Cutter said. "I've just always felt comfortable with him."
He said he plans to bundle contributions again for Biden, and has been in touch with the campaign about hosting the former vice president in Sacramento.
Amy Klobuchar was the second-largest beneficiary of the Democratic dropouts, taking in more than $650,000 last quarter from more than 950 donors who had backed a failed candidate.
Harris' exit also provided a boost for the Minnesota senator. Nearly 500 former Harris donors sent a total of $350,000 to Klobuchar's campaign coffers.
Meanwhile, Pete Buttigieg was poaching donors from his fellow former Rhodes Scholar mayor. He took in more than $250,000 from more than 200 supporters of Cory Booker, who dropped out in January, in the final quarter of 2019.
The current crop of candidates likely picked up even more support from their one-time foes. The Federal Election Commission only requires campaigns to disclose donors who contributed at least $200. And in some cases, donors to failed campaigns gave to multiple candidates who are still in the race.
Biden also collected $220,000 from former Booker donors, $150,000 from former Beto O'Rourke donors, and $120,000 from former Kirsten Gillibrand donors.
After some Democrats raised concerns over the former vice president's cash flow, he raised a total of just more than $23 million in the fourth quarter, his best fundraising period to date. But he still trailed Bernie Sanders and Buttigieg, as well as billionaires Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, who are self-funding their campaigns.
Biden also entered the year with less than $9 million in the bank, which is half as much as Sanders, his chief rival in the national polls. The two are also expected to be at the op of field in Monday's Iowa caucuses, which officially kick-start the Democratic nominating process.