Despite the fact that Jeb Bush represents a virtual royal dynasty with vast connections among the moneyed elite, he’s only raised a little over half of what his campaign needs at this point – and most of that has been spent. Currently, his campaign staff has seen their paychecks reduced (top campaign chiefs saw their pay shaved by $75,000). Reportedly, they’re eating at downscale diners and staying at economy lodging facilities as well. According to a report at, Jeb Bush has even started flying commercial.  One insider quipped, “The high life has ended.”

Of the top GOP contenders (not counting Trump), Jeb has the least amount of cash on hand, coming in fourth behind his former protégé and current rival Marco Rubio. Since announcing his candidacy last summer, he’s raised $13.4 million. Most of that was raised in the first sixteen days, and $11.5 million of it has been spent.  Jeb Bush’s campaign must still contend with a $1.7 million payroll for this quarter as well as $2 million for consulting, fundraising and legal counsel.

So much for “shock and awe.” Jeb Bush apparently thought that he could intimidate his rivals by raising so much in such a short time. He also believed he could run on his family name and connections. Now, the Republican’s former “Golden Boy” might have to roll up his sleeves and actually go to work if he has any chance of securing the GOP nomination. Even that is looking unlikely. His poll numbers are averaging around 7 percent nationwide. The news is not much better in New Hampshire, a state political analysts believe he must win. Despite a $4.8 million “ad blitz” courtesy of his Super PAC Right to Rise, Jeb’s numbers slid from 9 to 8.7 percent in the Granite State. At the same time, big GOP donors, increasingly nervous about Bush’s chances, are starting to look more favorably at Rubio, despite the fact that his numbers are only slightly better.

In short: Jeb Bush’s star is falling from the status of leading man to that of bit-players like John Kasich, Rand Paul and Chris Christie. However, his dismal fundraising record is really the symptom of a deeper problem afflicting the entire field of Establishment, “mainstream” GOP candidates. They’re having a problem attracting campaign donations compared to the “outsiders” like Fiorina and Carson. Even Trump, whose campaign is largely self-funded, is picking up outside donors.

Furthermore, GOP candidates across the board are trailing Democrats in terms of individual contributions. While those big-money billionaire donors are happy to back easily bought-and-paid for GOP candidates, the power of those big donations pale in compared to those from hundreds of thousands of small donors supporting Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and others.

It says something about average people driven by passion as opposed to oligarchs motivated by greed and lust for power and control.

Watch our commentary on Jeb’s faltering campaign:

K.J. McElrath is a former history and social studies teacher who has long maintained a keen interest in legal and social issues. In addition to writing for The Ring of Fire, he is the author of two published novels: Tamanous Cooley, a darkly comic environmental twist on Dante's Inferno, and The Missionary's Wife, a story of the conflict between human nature and fundamentalist religious dogma. When not engaged in journalistic or literary pursuits, K.J. works as an entertainer and film composer.