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Presidential candidates spending the most on their campaigns

  • Presidential candidates spending the most on their campaigns

    Presidential campaigns are expensive. From buying ads to maintaining payroll to the paradoxical expenditure that is fundraising itself, millions and millions of dollars go into the race to the White House.

    The 2020 presidential field is no exception. With an unprecedented number of candidates vying for the chance to take on President Trump—in some cases, from his own party—2020 contenders are raking in historic amounts of cash. Updated fundraising reports of the 2020 cycle (books closed Sept. 30 and reports were filed by Oct. 15, 2019) reveal candidates raised $621.3 million so far, with super PACs supporting those campaigns raising $59.9 million.

    Money is pouring out of the coffers as quickly as it's coming in—and, oftentimes, even faster. Of course, some candidates spend more than others. From front-runners polling in double digits like senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to the middle and lower-tier candidates struggling to climb out of the single digits and become household names, tens of millions of dollars are being spent. Using data from the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets website and the Federal Election Commission, Stacker curated a gallery of 2020 presidential candidates spending the most money on their campaigns. The amounts are ranked by the total dollars spent in the third quarter by the candidate’s campaign itself and by outside groups.

    One candidate—Mark Sanford (R)—did not have spending information available, as he entered the race recently or has not raised sufficient funds. Keep reading to see where your favorite candidate stands in terms of fundraising.

    You may also like: Presidential candidates raising the most for their campaigns

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren appears during a campaign event on Sept. 16, 2019, in Washington Square Park, New York City.]

  • #22. Wayne Messam (D)

    - Total spent: $62,666
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $62,666
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $0

    Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam has had a bumpy candidacy since beginning his presidential run in March 2019, including recent reports that show just $5 in third-quarter earnings. Messam's only expenditures have been for operating costs ($23,446.66) and fundraising ($39,219.57).

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate and Miramar, Fla., Mayor Wayne Messam attends a meet and greet event in Goffstown, N.H., 2019.]

  • #21. Joe Walsh (R)

    - Total spent: $119,317
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $119,317
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $100,000

    Joe Walsh's campaign is struggling with fundraising; Republican strategist Aaron Del Mar said the candidate needs almost $9 million more just to maintain relevancy in the election, according to reporting from the Daily Herald. Without a lot of money being raised, Walsh has found another way to reach voters: through TV appearances on major networks.

    [Pictured: Republican candidate and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh sits on steps in Chicago, 2018]

  • #20. Joe Sestak (D)

    - Total spent: $166,724
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $166,724
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $0

    Former Pennsylvania Congressman Joe Sestak joined the presidential race in June 2019. Sestak's first ad began airing on television in New Hampshire Oct. 13, the same month he kicked off a walk across the state reminiscent of his trek across Pennsylvania in a failed Senate bid.

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak speaking with attendees at the Iowa Federation of Labor Convention in Altoona, Iowa, 2019.]

  • #19. Bill Weld (R)

    - Total spent: $1,110,555
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $1,110,555
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $180,800

    Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is one of the only Republicans challenging President Trump for the nomination. He is progressive when it comes to immigration, advocates joining the Paris Climate Accords, is pro-choice, and generally supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. Other key areas in which Weld differs from the typical conservative base include gun control and marijuana legalization.

    [Pictured: Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld speaks during a U.S. Presidential Candidates Forum at the 2019 NABJ Annual Convention & Career Fair on Aug. 8, 2019, in Miami, Fla.]

  • #18. Tim Ryan (D)

    - Total spent: $1,138,535
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $1,138,535
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $28,225

    Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, whose most notable slogan has been, “You don’t have to yell”—a chastisement delivered to Sen. Bernie Sanders in one of the Democratic debates—is running on a platform highlighting labor and work reform, boosting the middle class, and veterans affairs. Though he voted more than a decade ago for the building of border fences, Ryan is a proponent of creating a long-term solution for those affected by DACA. Ryan is another supporter of marijuana legalization, wants to simplify the tax code, and wishes to reduce mandatory minimum sentencing.

    [Pictured: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) delivers a campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10, 2019.]

  • #17. Marianne Williamson (D)

    - Total spent: $2,490,806
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $2,490,806
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $302,366

    Among self-help guru Marianne Williamson’s most generous donors are the liberal-minded University of California, Unplug Meditation, and the aptly-named Lead With Love. Williamson raised $3 million in the third quarter of 2019—double that of the quarter previous and bringing her total for the year to $6.1 million. Despite not wanting to be billed as the “New Age” candidate, Williamson’s campaign has used funding infusions to hire staff members who have experience working for spiritual causes and New Age movements, according to reporting from Slate.

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson speaks at Coe College’s Sinclair Auditorium on Sept. 20, 2019 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.]

  • #16. Steve Bullock (D)

    - Total spent: $2,949,946
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $2,949,946
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $0

    It’s fair to say Montana Gov. Steve Bullock knows how to make lemonade from lemons. After failing to meet the polling threshold for the June 2019 Democratic debate, Bullock bought ads blasting the DNC for not including him. With the Iowa Caucuses fast approching, the candidate in October 2019 scheduled a speaking engagement at the Council Bluffs Public Library in Iowa. Bullock is the last Democratic governor in race for president, following the withdrawals of Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper. 


    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock delivers a speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox at the Iowa State Fair Aug. 8, 2019.]

  • #15. Michael Bennet (D)

    - Total spent: $3,746,637
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $3,746,637
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $0

    Michael Bennet's campaign spent $1 million to broadcast ads in Iowa, trying to bounce back from trailing poll numbers in the nation’s first primary state. The candidate in October 2019 rolled out a plan to take on the U.S. housing shortage by investing in new, affordable housing across the country while growing housing assistance opportunities.

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) at the Blue Jamboree on Oct. 5, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C.]

  • #14. Julian Castro (D)

    - Total spent: $6,830,677
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $6,830,677
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $0

    Julián Castro is the former Housing and Urban Development secretary and mayor of San Antonio. A proponent of overhauling healthcare and immigration (Castro was the first nominee to detail an immigration plan to benefit Dreamers), he also said he wants to use his experience creating sustainable energy plans in San Antonio to attack the climate crisis and rejoin the Paris Accords.

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro marching with supporters at the Polk County Democrats' Steak Fry on Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.]

  • #13. Tulsi Gabbard (D)

    - Total spent: $6,864,688
    --- Total spent by candidate committee: $6,864,688
    --- Total spent by outside groups: $0
    - Total campaign debt: $68,698

    Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran who is now anti-war and anti-interventionist. In addition to vehemently opposing the defense budget—she called for wasted trillions to be directed toward “domestic needs like health, education, [and] infrastructure”—Gabbard said she plans to address campaign finance reform, wealth inequality, and access to affordable healthcare.

    [Pictured: Democratic presidential candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) addresses the crowd at the Blue Jamboree on Oct. 5, 2019, in North Charleston, S.C.]

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