Booker raises nearly $3 million in two months

WASHINGTON – Newark Mayor Cory Booker raised $2.85 million for his Senate campaign in the last two months, according to his campaign.

The Democrat has raised an impressive $11.5 million since January, but is down to $2.63 million cash on hand for the final two weeks of the campaign. Still, Booker has a significant edge over Republican Steve Lonegan, who had $241,282 on hand as of the latest report, according to my colleague Andrew Seidman.

(Gannett's Mike Symons points out that Booker can't spend all $2.6 million now, though -- some of it was raised for the 2014 Senate race and can't be used now.)

Lonegan has raised $1.35 million over the course of the campaign, including $1 million in the last two months, with help from Gov. Christie and Sen. Rand Paul, according to Lonegan’s campaign.

Two take-aways:

-- Lonegan has closed on Booker according to a couple recent polls, which put the race in the 12-15 point range, but Booker has a lot more money left for a big final push and, critically, a get out the vote effort for an unusual Oct. 16 special election. Turnout will be critical, and money will help.

-- Booker has spent close to $9 million in a race that only began in earnest in June. Which perhaps explains why he left the campaign trail for more than a week while on a fund-raising swing.

Booker obviously wanted to keep his big advantage for the stretch run and, if he wins, will have to run again next year.

More than half of the $9 million Booker spent was used in a tough primary against three credible Democratic challengers. Booker has had to get out his message while rallying people to vote on two odd election days, the Aug. 13 primary and Oct. 16.

If you want details of how the candidates raised their campaign money, though, and how much they really raised instead of lending themselves, you’ll have to wait.

The Federal Election Commission has this message on its Web site: “The FEC will be closed until it receives an appropriation to fund its operations.”

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