Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) second bid for the White House is barely out the gate, but the lawmaker already has a formidable war chest after leveraging the support of small donors who propelled him to the top of the Democratic pack in 2016.
Sanders has raised more than $4 million from nearly 150,000 people in the 12 hours since he announced his run, campaign officials said Tuesday. The number far surpasses other prominent Democrats who have launched their own bids and is more than double the $1.5 million raised by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) in her first 24 hours.
“The only way we will win this election and create a government and economy that work for all is with a grassroots movement ― the likes of which has never been seen in American history,” Sanders said in a message to supporters on Tuesday. “They may have the money and power. We have the people.”
The senator’s campaign said the average size of the donations, about $27, mirrored the small-scale support seen in 2016.
The Democratic field is already crowded. A dozen people have launched campaigns, and several prominent names, including former Vice President Joe Biden, are still mulling their own bids.
Sanders confirmed his long-expected bid on Tuesday in an interview with Vermont Public Radio, saying he wanted to “let the people of the state of Vermont know about this first.”
“Together, you and I and our 2016 campaign began the political revolution. Now, it is time to complete that revolution and implement the vision that we fought for,” the senator said later in an email to supporters. “I am asking you today to join me as part of an unprecedented and historic grassroots campaign.”
Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Senate Democrats, lost his first attempt at the nomination to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016 but still managed to win widespread support. He secured nearly 1,900 delegates to Clinton’s 2,800.
Throughout his 2016 campaign, Sanders touted the small size in donations, which ultimately helped him raise more than $228 million. Many of his supporters still think he’s the right choice for 2020 and have celebrated his progressive agenda, including a $15 minimum wage, free tuition at public colleges and “Medicare for All.”
His 2016 campaign, however, has been shadowed by allegations of sexism after about two dozen women said they were sexually harassed or mistreated while working for the senator’s first bid. Sanders met with some of the former staffers last month after issuing an apology, saying he wasn’t aware of the claims in 2016.
“Clearly we need a cultural revolution in this country to change workplace attitudes and behavior,” Sanders wrote in January. “I intend in every way to be actively involved in that process.”