Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) campaign made it plain and simple on Saturday: if they don’t raise another $1.7 million by Sept. 30, they don’t see a “legitimate long-term path forward” to compete for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
Booker’s campaign manager Addisu Demissie wrote in a memo on Saturday morning, first reported by NBC News, that, “Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward.”
“He’s never been in this to raise his profile or to sell books. He is in it to win it,” Demissie wrote. “The next 10 days will decide whether or not he can.”
With the Democratic National Committee set to raise thresholds further for qualifying for future debates, Demissie surmised that the New Jersey Democrat is not alone in his financial insecurity. In fact, he alluded to “only four campaigns in this race,” with the money and resources necessary to compete for the nomination in the long haul. Those would be the campaigns of former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Booker has long drawn plaudits from voters and activists for his enthusiastic speeches and debate performances, but hasn’t managed to break out in polling in the incredibly crowded field. Demissie said, without revealing specific financial numbers, that they are in a position to continue competing, but without more money to expand their operation, they don’t see a path to winning the nomination.
“Cory got in this race to win it and to beat Donald Trump,” Demissie wrote. “With four and a half months until voting begins, he is well-positioned to do just that—if he has the resources to support and grow our team. But if our campaign is not in a financial position to grow, he’s not going to continue to consume resources and attention that can be used to focus on beating Donald Trump, which needs to be everyone’s first priority in this election.”
On a subsequent call with reporters, Demissie addressed the fact that the current top four were all white candidates in the most historically diverse presidential field in history.
“We have the most diverse Democratic field in history and I think it would be a shame if that diversity was not reflected in the candidates who end up competing for the nomination once people actually start voting come next spring,” he told The Daily Beast. “And I do think that there are some candidates in this race that should think seriously about their standing in it and what exactly their goals are. But I’m focused on what we need to do to win. We are still in a position to win. What we need to do is raise money in the next 10 days. And that’s what we are going to focus on like a laser.”
While the campaign called this a “herculean challenge,” they also noted that they had raised $1.4 million in the final 10 days of March to close out the first quarter. Now they’ll have to do that and then some to survive.