The campaign to elect Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Tuesday it raised over $2.5 million in the third quarter, topping Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell's fundraising totals for the same period.
Over the past three months Grimes received support from all 120 Kentucky counties and all 50 states with around 13,300 contributors, which is more than twice the number of McConnell's donors.
It is a reflection of Grimes's national network as she has been crisscrossing the country holding fundraisers with top Democratic donors and activists with the help of "rainmakers" such as those who worked to elect U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
The Grimes campaign points out their first fundraising report outpaces McConnell's "strongest quarter to date" of $2.3 million in her bid to unseat the 30-year incumbent.
"The record-breaking showing speaks to the overwhelming grassroots momentum behind Alison’s campaign and the fact that people across the political spectrum are tired of Mitch McConnell’s out-of-touch, failed leadership. Simply put, McConnell is not receiving a passing grade from Kentucky or this nation,” says Grimes senior adviser Jonathan Hurst. "Just as she has throughout her career, Alison will fight for Kentucky’s working families in the U.S. Senate. Her commonsense, bipartisan approach is the vision needed to move the Commonwealth and our nation forward."
National Republican groups and the McConnell campaign tried to throw cold water on the announcement by saying Grimes should have raised more—in the neighborhood of $7.5 million—in the quarter.
"Alison Lundergan Grimes had the red carpet rolled out for her in front of the national liberal elite in places like Hollywood, Martha’s Vineyard and Las Vegas and still came up far short of $7 million first quarter benchmark set by her own professional fundraising team" says McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. "It is clear that Alison Lundergan Grimes is not as popular as she’d hoped to be among Democrat donors."
Raising $17.7 million for the entire cycle thus far, McConnell still holds an impressive 5-to-1 dollar lead over Grimes with nearly $10 million in the bank compared to the Democratic challenger's $2 million in cash on hand.
Democratic strategists have said Grimes believes she will need between $26 million to $30 million to defeat McConnell, who is seeing a sixth term in office.
From Mother Jones:
Even by the standards of today's big-money politics, Grimes' $26-30 million target is a staggering sum of money. It's almost three times more than the average winning Senate race in 2012. Only four Senate candidates—Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, David Dewhurst of Texas, and Linda McMahon of Connecticut—raised more than $26 million during the 2012 election season. And Grimes' fundraising goal does not include outside groups—super-PACs, dark-money nonprofits, etc. Depending on how competitive the Kentucky race is, tens of millions more in outside money could pour in.
But the Grimes camp points out the GOP leader burned through most of his contributions during the past three months and Team Mitch ended up with the same total in their coffers.