Carson, Santorum Rev Money Machines

It’s the end of the first quarter, and candidates are dashing to collect last minute donations to shore up their campaigns and wow the media with their hauls.  Dr. Ben Carson, who has had a surprisingly strong showing in the polls lately, is no exception, and is already showcasing some impressive numbers for Q1:

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is on track to raise $10.5 million during his first quarter as a candidate, a senior adviser said Wednesday.

Carson senior adviser Mike Murray added that the Republican’s money haul included 210,000 contributions with an average gift of $50. “We obviously set some goals internally. We’ve exceeded those goals,” Murray said.

Along with the sheer amount he has managed to raise, Carson is also reporting that “the bulk” of the donations were from small donors under $200, indicating grassroots support.

Meanwhile, 2012 runner up Rick Santorum had two pieces of good news for supporters Wednesday, announcing the launch of a new super PAC and the support of a donor vital to his success last time around:

A new super PAC is launching Wednesday to support Republican Rick Santorum’s second presidential bid, and one of his biggest financial backers said he’s planning write checks again.

Wyoming-based investor Foster Friess told USA TODAY in an email that he plans to back “Rick’s campaign financially” in 2016. Friess contributed $2.1 million to a pro-Santorum super PAC in the 2012 cycle. There’s no word yet on his financial commitment ahead of next year’s contest.

…The new super PAC, Working Again PAC, is filing its paperwork Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission, its organizers said in a news release. Santorum previously established Patriot Voices, a nonprofit group that can take unlimited, anonymous donations.

We’ll learn more about the impact of these announcements as other Republican candidates report earnings over the coming days, but these early numbers are definitely a sign that conservative donors are active and looking for a candidate to represent them next year.

Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles in Action.