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Biden Shuffles Finance Team

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) is bringing in an old fundraising hand to manage the day to day operations of his finance team even as his campaign continues to be dogged by suggestions that it will run out of money before next year's caucuses and primaries.

Dennis Toner will take over the day-to-day operations of the finance department from finance director Chris Koerner. Koerner will retain her title but will focus much more heavily on raising money from the trial lawyer community in the coming weeks and months. Paula Levine, a New York fundraiser, is also taking a broader role for Biden as is Mary Liz Kane, a longtime Boston fundraiser for Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Toner, like many members of Biden's political inner circle, has a long history with the Delaware Senator. He is often referred to in press accounts as Biden's "chief fundraiser" and in Biden's first run for president in 1987 Toner served as assistant treasurer.

In this campaign Toner had primarily been focused on raising money from New York, Philadelphia and Biden's home state of Delaware but will now take on a far broader palette of responsibilities.

The reshuffling comes amid questions about whether Biden, who has been one of the stars of the series of debates and forums featuring the Democratic presidential candidates, can continue to raise enough money to stay in the race through the first real votes in January.

Through June 30 Biden had raised $6.5 million, a total that included a $1.9 million transfer from his Senate campaign committee. At the end of the second fundraising quarter, Biden had $2.8 million in the bank. His campaign has repeatedly acknowledged that fundraising is the major challenge to his viability in the race but he has yet to prove he can compete even with the top of the second-tier (New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson) when it comes to the cash chase.

Biden launched his first ad of the campaign in Iowa over the weekend, a powerful spot that reinforces his image as the clearest voice in the field on the future of Iraq. But, given his financial standing, the ad could be seen a last-ditch attempt to move numbers in the Hawkeye State in hopes of driving some donations to his campaign.

If Biden can't gain traction for his message over the next month or so, it's hard to see his money situation improving in advance of the Sept. 30 fundraising deadline. If it doesn't, he may need to re-examine his campaign at that time.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 22, 2007; 1:13 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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