Jeb Bush outlines his energy policy during a visit to Rice Energy, an oil and gas company based in Canonsburg, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015.

Jeb Bush outlines his energy policy during a visit to Rice Energy, an oil and gas company based in Canonsburg, Pa., Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. Gene J. Puskar/AP

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Bush’s Campaign Trails Three Republican Rivals in 2016 Money Race

His super PAC remains supreme, but his campaign has less cash on hand than Cruz, Rubio, or Carson.

Nine months after en­ter­ing the 2016 stage as a fun­drais­ing be­hemoth, Jeb Bush finds him­self in the fi­nal, cru­cial months be­fore ac­tu­al vot­ing be­gins with less money in the bank than three GOP rivals.

The former Flor­ida gov­ernor raised $13.4 mil­lion between Ju­ly 1 and Sept. 30—just $2 mil­lion more than he raised in the fi­nal two weeks of June fol­low­ing his form­al entry in­to the race. The haul left him $10.3 mil­lion head­ing in­to Oc­to­ber.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, and re­tired neurosur­geon Ben Car­son all began the fourth quarter with more in the bank. Cruz had $13.8 mil­lion, Car­son had $11.2 mil­lion, and Ru­bio had $11 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Fed­er­al Elec­tion Com­mis­sion re­ports filed Thursday.

“This is par­tic­u­larly note­worthy giv­en the depth of the cur­rent field,” Bush cam­paign man­ager Danny Diaz said in a state­ment. “We knew from the start this was go­ing to be a hard-fought and close race, but few could have an­ti­cip­ated just how volat­ile this field would be.”

These fig­ures do not re­flect the dol­lars col­lec­ted by su­per PACs sup­port­ing the can­did­ates. Among those, the Right to Rise com­mit­tee sup­port­ing Bush had raised $103 mil­lion in the first half of the year, far more than the group sup­port­ing Ru­bio and the vari­ous groups back­ing Cruz. How much each of these groups has today is un­avail­able to the pub­lic, and won’t be un­til the next FEC fil­ing dead­line for su­per PACs on Jan. 31, 2016—the day be­fore the Iowa caucuses.

Right to Rise, however, an­nounced Thursday that it is re­serving $16.8 mil­lion in TV ads in states that vote March 1, in­clud­ing Geor­gia, Texas, Vir­gin­ia, and Michigan.

Also not covered by Thursday’s fil­ings is spend­ing by a secret-money polit­ic­al group, Con­ser­vat­ive Solu­tions Pro­ject, which has been run­ning mil­lions of dol­lars in ads prais­ing Ru­bio for months in the early-vot­ing states. The donors pay­ing for those ads nev­er have to be re­vealed, and how much the group ends up spend­ing doesn’t have to dis­closed un­til the spring of 2017—months after the next pres­id­ent has taken of­fice.

Set­ting aside the out­side groups, that Bush’s ac­tu­al cam­paign has been matched, let alone sur­passed, by oth­er can­did­ates speaks to the trouble he has had all sum­mer and in­to the fall gain­ing trac­tion in polling. Bush cur­rently stands in single di­gits na­tion­ally, des­pite hav­ing the best Re­pub­lic­an fun­drais­ing op­er­a­tion in the coun­try—ori­gin­ally built for his fath­er’s 1980 pres­id­en­tial run, and then kept up­dated through five ad­di­tion­al na­tion­al races for his fath­er and older broth­er.

That abil­ity to raise money quickly, com­bined with Bush’s view that his cam­paign from the start had to be equipped to run a suc­cess­ful gen­er­al-elec­tion race to take on pre­sumed Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Hil­lary Clin­ton, led him to build a sprawl­ing op­er­a­tion far lar­ger than his GOP rivals.

In the three months end­ing Sept. 30, Bush’s cam­paign spent $2.4 mil­lion pay­ing 133 dif­fer­ent staffers. Ru­bio, in con­trast, paid 44 in­di­vidu­als a total of $591,500, and Cruz paid 36 people a total of $563,000.

(Car­son, mean­while, paid the ma­jor­ity of what he raised—$11.6 mil­lion—to the dir­ect-mail and email mar­ket­ing com­pan­ies that brought the money in. His un­con­ven­tion­al cam­paign spent just $169,000 on staff.)

The Bush cam­paign also spent $922,000 on chartered air­planes—al­though the vast ma­jor­ity of that came in Ju­ly and early Au­gust, be­fore the cam­paign star­ted cut­ting back on ex­penses to match smal­ler ex­pec­ted fun­drais­ing totals.