U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore’s campaign said today it raised $655,000 from mid August until the end of 2009. During the same period, his rival in the California senate race, Carly Fiorina, reported raising $1.1 million and loaning her campaign an additional $2.5 million.
The DeVore campaign argues that it’s been able to do more with less, by keeping the race a dead heat despite Fiorina’s higher spending. According to the DeVore campaign, he has spent $352,000, compared to $830,000 spent by Fiorina.
“Carly Fiorina sunk well over twice the funds into her campaign, just to get to polling parity with Chuck DeVore,” DeVore spokesman Josh Trevino wrote in an email.
Trevino also cautioned that, “I wish to stress that the DeVore for California numbers here are only approximate. We don’t have final figures yet, but these are broadly correct.”
UPDATE: The Fiorina campaign responds that it didn’t hold its first fundraiser until after she announced her candidacy in early November, and there hasn’t been a poll of the race in nearly two months.
UPDATE II: I’m getting pushback from the DeVore campaign, which argues that it’s misleading for the Fiorina team to focus on the first formal fundraiser event being in November, because Fiorina started accepting donations from the time she formed her exploratory committee in August. Also, the DeVore campaign tells me that its cash on hand as of the start of the year is, “in the neighborhood of $223,000, down to around $140,000 when you subtract debts.” Earlier today, the Fiorina campaign said it had $2.7 million cash on hand, a number that includes Fiorina’s personal loan of $2.5 million. The DeVore campaign argues that if you subtract her loan and debts, her cash on hand would only be $165,000, which is in the range of his $140,000.
With all of the back and forth over these numbers, it’s worth keeping in mind how they relate to the broader dynamic in the race. DeVore wants to paint himself as the grassroots favorite taking on the choice of the establishment, while Fiorina wants to portray herself as the more electable candidate who is better positioned to go toe-to-toe with Sen. Barbara Boxer when it comes to financing a campaign in a large and expensive state. So, with the release of fundraising numbers, the Fiorina team wanted to convey that the campaign was in strong financial standing within 60 days of beginning her candidacy in earnest. By contrast, DeVore’s operation is eager to push the idea that despite Fiorina’s personal wealth and network of business contacts, he’s remaining competitive, and is spending his money more efficiently.
Of course, whatever the source of the cash, the bottom line is that Fiorina will start the year with a lot more money to spend. We don’t yet know how that will affect the race. Given that the primary isn’t until June, a new candidate may enter the race this week, and most California voters likely have other things on their minds, I imagine it will be several months before we start to see meaningful polls.