Oct 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Exclusive: Christie's low burn-rate gives him runway to New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit on October 13, 2023 in Nashua, New Hampshire

Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during the 2023 First in the Nation Leadership Summit on Oct. 13 in Nashua, New Hampshire. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is entering the final months of the GOP presidential campaign with no debt and $3.9 million cash on hand, his campaign told Axios Sunday.

Why it matters: With a small team and a thrifty campaign, Christie likely has enough money to make it to the New Hampshire primary, where he has staked his candidacy.

By the numbers: Christie raised $3.8 million in the third quarter, with $2.3 million of that haul added to his cash on hand.

  • Christie's campaign said all of that money is designated for the primary campaign.
  • Some of Christie's rivals, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Vice President Mike Pence, have raised money that they can only use in the general election.

Between the lines: The $3.9 million total does not include money that Christie's affiliated super PAC may have, which can spend on advertising.

  • Christie's Tell It Like it Is PAC had $5.5 million cash on hand entering July, the last reporting period.

Zoom in: The Christie campaign has stayed lean, involving only about 15 people who often take on multiple roles.

  • Top campaign aide Maria Comella has at times assumed the role of driver, taking the wheel of the rental car to shuttle the candidate to events.
  • The campaign has no physical headquarters, with staff working remotely or on the road — often in New Hampshire.
  • The campaign says it hasn't spent money on TV ads or internal polling, and Christie has relied on earned media with hundred of interviews.

What to watch: The campaign told Axios they are very confident he will qualify for the third presidential debate in November, as he appears to have already passed the polling threshold.

  • "Our cash on hand and low burn shows just how serious we are taking this and how dedicated we are to doing this the right way," a Christie spokesperson said.

Zoom out: Christie has a lower burn rate than many of his rivals, but he still is entering the final stretch of the primary campaign at a money disadvantage.

  • Former President Trump reported having $37.5 million cash-on-hand entering October. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's team said it has $9.1 million, while DeSantis' campaign said it has $5 million.
  • DeSantis also has a well-funded super PAC handling many of the normal campaign operations.

Christie is in a better financial situation than Pence, however.

Flashback: Christie, who mounted an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2016, had just $1.4 million cash on hand at the end of the third quarter in 2015, four months after he launched his bid.

  • Much of Christie's 2024 team was on that campaign and feels they learned to be smarter with campaign cash.
  • He dropped out of the 2016 race in February after finishing sixth in the New Hampshire primary.

Go deeper: 2024 presidential candidates are burning cash fast

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