UPDATE 1-Sanders raises $25.3 mil, Buttigieg $19 mil in third quarter

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(Adds Buttigieg totals)

By John Whitesides and Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg rushed to release their third-quarter fundraising totals early Tuesday morning, boasting hauls that are likely to be among the largest in the crowded field.

All 19 Democratic contenders are required to publish their quarterly fundraising figures by mid-October. Sanders and Buttigieg, who have both placed emphasis on their support from wide networks of small donors, were the first off the mark.

Both campaigns made the numbers public hours after the deadline to complete fundraising for the quarter. Candidates have until October 15 to file reports with the Federal Election Commission.

Sanders, whose status in polls as the number two candidate for the party's nomination behind frontrunner Joe Biden has been threatened by a surge of support for fellow progressive Elizabeth Warren, raised $25.3 million, more than any candidate's previous single-quarter haul.

Buttigieg, who has struggled to break into the top three candidates in polls, raised $19.1 million, less than the $24.8 million he raised in the second quarter when he was the top fundraiser.

Fundraising numbers are closely watched to assess candidates' viability and whether their campaigns are collecting the cash necessary to remain competitive.

Sanders' total came from 1.4 million individual donations and surpassed the $18 million he raised in the second quarter. Sanders campaign officials have pointed to the grassroots, small-dollar nature of his fundraising as a sign of the breadth of his support.

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Sanders has raised a total of $61.5 million since he launched his bid in February.

The campaign said the final day of the third quarter on Monday was Sanders' second biggest fundraising day of the campaign. The average donation for the quarter was $18.07.

Nearly all of Sanders' donors had not hit their maximum allowed contribution, the campaign said, meaning they can give again as the race rolls on. The first state nominating contest, in Iowa, will be on Feb. 3, 2020.

Buttigieg has raised a total of $51 million since the beginning of the year, his campaign said in a memo sent to reporters. The average donation in the third quarter was $32.

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The South Bend, Indiana mayor's campaign highlighted the ways the strong fundraising haul was being put to use. In the third quarter the campaign hired 400 new staff and opened its first 42 field offices - including 21 in the early primary contest state of Iowa. (Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Graff)

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