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  • U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019.

    U.S. 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders participates in a moderated discussion at the We the People Summit in Washington, U.S., April 1, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 3 April 2019

"One million volunteers signed up. US$18.2 million raised. 900,000 individual contributions. That's the strength of our movement so far," Sanders tweeted.

United States Presidential contender Bernie Sanders raised US$18.2 million in the first three months of this year for his 2020 White House bid, his campaign said Tuesday, giving him an early fundraising lead in a crowded Democratic primary field.

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Sanders, a self-proclaimed social democrat and U.S. senator from Vermont making his second run for the White House, received 900,000 donations from 525,000 individual donors, the vast majority under age 39, campaign manager Faiz Shakir told reporters. The average donation was US$20.

About 20 percent of donors were new supporters of Sanders, he said. Sanders ran for the presidency in 2016, but lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton. The race was so close that a coin had to be tossed to determine the winner of the Iowa Caucus, considered one of the more crucial votes as the results generally set the tone for the remainder of the primaries.

Fundraising totals are a closely watched early indicator of a candidate's support, and Sanders has outpaced the other two Democrats who have announced totals. U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California raised US$12 million, and Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said he raised US$7 million in the first quarter.

The field of Democrats vying for the right to challenge Republican President Donald Trump includes other candidates with proven fundraising ability, including Beto O'Rourke, the former Texas congressman who said he raised US$6.1 million in a day after he entered the race last month.
 
Candidates are required by law to track and report all campaign donations, and those collected in the first quarter must be disclosed by April 15. Candidates are limited to collecting US$2,800 from a single donor during the primary process. 
 
Sanders campaign officials said his first-quarter haul, which included donations from all 50 states, will allow him to expand campaign staff and operations in early voting states in next year's primary contests, which kicks off in Iowa in February. "With the money we have raised, we will be able to compete in all of the states" through early March 2020, said Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sanders.
 
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