(CNN)The Democratic presidential contenders are racing to refill their campaign coffers — following costly battles in the early nominating states and the looming Super Tuesday threat from New York tycoon Michael Bloomberg, who has plowed nearly half a billion dollars of his fortune into the fight to become the party’s standard-bearer.
The campaign filings rolling into the Federal Election Commission on Thursday evening underscored the sharp money divide in the Democratic campaign as the race moves into an expensive coast-to-coast battle for delegates.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts spent more than twice what she raised in January and took out a $3 million line of credit to ward off running out of cash, her campaign reported late Thursday to federal regulators. And Pete Buttigieg on Thursday made his own urgent plea to supporters to help him raise $13 million — or roughly $1 million a day — before Super Tuesday’s contests in 14 states after collecting just $6.16 million in January.
Aside from the billionaires in the Democratic primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont entered the nominating season in the best financial position. He raised a staggering $25.1 million in January — and, despite spending more than he took in, still had $16.8 million in cash reserves before the opening contests of 2020.
By comparison, former Vice President Joe Biden started February with $7.1 million remaining in his campaign accounts, followed by Buttigieg at $6.6 million.
In an email to supporters, Buttigieg said his campaign had collected $11 million this month after strong finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire but it wasn’t enough to meet the challenges ahead. “The goal posts have changed,” the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor wrote in an email obtained by CNN.
“We are no longer just up against Bernie Sanders, the Washington politician who has been running for president for years. We are now also up against a billionaire who is throwing colossal sums of money on television instead of doing the work of campaigning,” Buttigieg said in the email, which was first reported by Politico.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota raised a little less than Buttigieg in January, $5.5 million, and burned through $7.6 million that month, the new filings show. That left her with $2.9 million remaining in her campaign war chest.
But Warren opened February in the most precarious financial position of any top-tier candidate in the Democratic field. She had the smallest cash reserves: just $2.3 million, after spending $2 for every $1 she raised in January.
Her campaign used the line of credit it secured to set aside $400,000 to guard against running out of money before the Iowa caucuses. Campaign spokesman Chris Hayden said Warren did not have to use borrowed funds in the end.
And her aides said the senator’s commanding performance during Wednesday’s debate in Las Vegas had paid off — driving $5 million into her campaign coffers in the day after