The next presidential election is still 27 months away, and the Democratic field is only beginning to take shape. Donald Trump, however, isn’t wasting any time.
The president has now raised more than $88 million for his reelection, according to newly filed Federal Election Commission reports. That cash comes by way of his personal campaign and a pair of joint committees he created with the Republican Party, the Trump Victory Committee and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee. Together, the three entities raised about $18 million in the second quarter of 2018. That was nearly $2.5 million less than the groups brought in during the first three months of the year, but together they ended June with a whopping $54 million in the bank. That gives Trump a serious head start on his eventual challenger.
Trump raised a total of $333 million during the 2016 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, even as he insisted he was self-funding his campaign. “I don’t need anybody’s money,” he boasted in June 2015 after stepping off the Trump Tower escalator and into the GOP primary. “I’m using my own money. I’m not using the lobbyists. I’m not using donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich.”
Trump’s early fundraising efforts for 2020 are—prepare yourself—a departure from modern presidential norms. Typically, a president waits until after the midterms to begin fundraising in earnest, so as not to compete with the party’s congressional candidates. Barack Obama, for example, didn’t hold his first fundraiser until his third year in office, and George W. Bush brought in only a modest six-figure haul during the first two years of his presidency. Trump, however, has never really stopped campaigning since beginning his long-shot bid in 2015. He officially launched his reelection campaign the day after his inauguration, beefed up its staff one year later, and has continued to hold political rallies across the country, where his campaign hawks Make America Great Again hats and other apparel as part of its fundraising efforts.
In a statement, Trump’s campaign touted the fact that the vast majority of individual donations to his personal committee came from donors giving $200 or less. But as the New York Times notes, his affiliated joint committees also brought in a number of six-figure checks, including $339,000 from a Texas-based banker who once squared off against Trump in bankruptcy court but who later become one of his economic advisors, and $169,500 from a real estate developer who recently partnered with Jared Kushner’s company to sell retail space at a Manhattan skyscraper owned by Kushner’s family.