Kamala Harris

Attorney General Kamala Harris is raising a lot of money for her Senate campaign, but she’s spending it at an unusually high rate. (Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press)

Capitol Alert
By Christopher Cadelago
October 29, 2015

  • The front-runner for seat is grappling with high overhead costs
  • Harris raised $1.8 million over the past quarter, but spent $1.4 million
  • Campaign says early investments are paying off

Democrat Kamala Harris is developing a spending problem that has nagged front-runners before her.

Harris, the favorite to replace U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer next year, is burning through campaign cash nearly as rapidly as she raises it. She is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on mail fundraising appeals, a large campaign staff anchored in Los Angeles and prominent fundraisers scattered across the country.

Over the past three months, Harris took in $1.8 million. In that period, from July to September, the state attorney general spent about $1.4 million, and amassed another $400,000 in debts. Meanwhile, she is on her third finance director since launching her bid in January.

“With that kind of burn rate, she could get herself into trouble.”

Jim Jonas, a Denver-based political strategist

Spending at this rate, “she could get herself into trouble,” said Jim Jonas, a Denver-based political strategist who previously worked with Republicans but now consults exclusively with independent candidates.

Critical examinations into the spending of leading candidates occur each election cycle, and this year is no different. Over the past three months, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton spent nearly 90 percent of the $28.7 million she raised for the primary election, according to the Federal Election Commission. Payroll costs, at $5.5 million, plus another $3 million in payroll taxes, accounted for the largest total expense.

On the Republican side, Jeb Bush’s campaign last week laid out plans to curtail staff salaries and focus his resources on early-voting states. No longer the front-runner, Bush took in $13.4 million and spent $11.5 million, or 86 percent, during the third quarter. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, once a darling of GOP presidential primary voters and an early leader in Iowa, spent a reported $90,000 a day on the campaign before unceremoniously dropping out.

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