Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean leads the money race among Democrats seeking their party’s nomination to challenge President Bush, according to preliminary campaign figures released yesterday.
Mr. Dean is on target to pass the $23 million mark for money raised so far, overtaking Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is slated to top $18 million.
Both campaign war chests, however, are easily dwarfed by President Bush’s roughly $80 million.
Retired Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas, who entered the race Sept. 17, is expected to raise about $2 million during his first two weeks.
In the third quarter alone, Mr. Dean raised $12.8 million, according to his campaign, and he is aiming for $15 million. Much of that money came in donations through his Web site, which prominently features an online money meter updated hourly as the campaign strives for its $15 million mark.
Mr. Kerry, who had been leading the funding race among Democrats thus far, is expected to post between $4.5 million and $5 million for the quarter.
Mr. Bush has raised about $48 million during the three-month period.
Mr. Bush raised a record of more than $100 million for the 2000 primaries, when the donation limit was $1,000 per person. Under a new campaign-finance law, the limit has doubled to $2,000.
Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has raised “in the range” of $4 million, according to spokesman Jano Cabrera, bringing his total to about $12 million.
Campaign aides for Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri said they expect to raise more than the $3.8 million raised last quarter, but declined to specify how much.
“We’re on target to raise the $20 million we’ve said we’d raise all along,” said spokeswoman Kim Molstre.
Mo Elleithee, spokesman for Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, also declined to say how much his campaign has raised in the third quarter.
“It’s not going to be phenomenal but it will be enough to get ads up on TV,” he said.
Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who outraised everyone in the first quarter, prepared for a small showing.
“People should not look for a big number from us,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri, who declined to give specifics. “We have always budgeted the third quarter to be the lowest amount raised.”
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York did not release figures yesterday.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.