Cory Booker's campaign crosses halfway point to $1.7 million fundraising goal

WASHINGTON — Just days after warning his campaign might not have a viable path forward, Cory Booker has crossed the halfway threshold to his $1.7 million fundraising goal, according to information exclusively obtained by Yahoo News.

Just three days into its 10-day deadline, the campaign had raised $854,525.96 as of 2:39 p.m. ET Tuesday — with more than half that, $676,691, raised online. Now the team has reached 50.3 percent of its overall $1.7 million target.

Since the team announced it was in need of funding in order to expand its operations into the next few months, the campaign has now seen 21,999 donations, with more than half those donors new to the campaign. The New Jersey senator’s campaign staff has taken the latest numbers as an encouraging sign that Booker is in it for the longer haul.

“We have to grow this campaign well into Q4 and more importantly into Q1 and beyond,” campaign manager Addisu Demissie told Yahoo News. “It doesn’t stop at $1.7 [million], and it doesn’t stop on Sept. 30. We’ve got to keep moving forward, and I’m confident we’re going to get there now.”

Fundraising totals jumped nearly 6 percent in one night; by Monday’s evening tally, the campaign was 44.8 percent toward its goal, raising $762,303.16, with $620,000 of that coming from online contributions.

The past three days have seen the best fundraising hauls for Booker’s campaign to date, smashing records set by the campaign launch, end-of-quarter and postdebate pushes. Some of the war-chest success is attributed to donations and promotions from unlikely allies. Staffers from rival presidential campaigns and sometimes even former candidates themselves have been vocal on Twitter in their support for Booker and have been promoting their relationships with the hashtag “#Friendship2020.”

Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., attends the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)
Presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., attends the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Former candidate New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (a good friend of her New Jersey colleague) announced her donation to Booker via Twitter Saturday evening. Other political figures, many of whom have yet to dole out personal endorsements, followed suit, including the highly sought-after Stacey Abrams, Maryland gubernatorial candidate and progressive Ben Jealous, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn.

“I’m just so encouraged by the outpouring of support, from Stacey Abrams to Kirsten Gillibrand. We have a lot of alumni from previous campaigns for folks who are stepping up for us. It underscores that the bar has been raised, and it’s going to be raised again,” Demissie added.

Campaign morale has seen an upswing in recent days, said Demissie, due not in the least to external support from high-profile Democrats and other campaigns. Booker’s staff has set internal goals (Demissie himself has pledged to go vegan for a month if his team is able to pass certain thresholds) and has promoted its individual donor links on its Twitter feeds. Together, the team has adopted a “let’s go run at this brick wall and through it” mentality that he attributes as a testament to their boss, who’s well known for preaching messages of optimism and buoyancy.

The mood is a significant turnaround from just a few days ago. Early Saturday morning, in a memo first reported on by NBC News, Demissie wrote that if the campaign did not raise $1.7 million in the subsequent 10 days, it would have no “legitimate path forward.”

"Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward," Demissie wrote in the Saturday memo to staff and supporters. "The next 10 days will determine whether Cory Booker can stay in this race."

Now, at least according to Demissie, that path has a little more light.

“It was a leap of faith to do this; it was definitely not a stunt,” Demissie said. “We felt that we needed to be honest, not just with our supporters, but with people who believe it’s too early not to have Cory Booker’s voice in this race.”

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