And the race goes on…..

His pockets fat, Ben Carson is moving to leverage his enormous third quarter fundraising haul to capitalize on his run of success atop the polls.

Early in the cycle, critics questioned whether Carson would be able to compete with more established politicians in fundraising and campaign organization. Carson and his team believe they’ve put those questions to rest.

“We can design our own campaign now, we have the resources to be able to do that,” Carson told The Hill. “We’ll continue to build our organization around the country and build up our volunteer staff and grow in the natural way a successful campaign does.”

Carson raised $20 million in the third quarter, $8 million more than Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is, so far, the next closest contender to have announced his fundraising figures.

Carson’s small-dollar fundraising efforts are expensive but effective, the campaign says. He ended September with about $11.5 million in the bank.

The campaign is putting that money to work, hiring dozens of additional staffers and plotting big-money ad buys in key states, according to Carson’s communications director Doug Watts.

Watts on Tuesday was busy filming one of several new campaign ads set for release in recent weeks.

The campaign has so far released only one ad, part of a half-million dollar buy that ran in early August in Iowa and New Hampshire.

A second ad, part of an estimated $750,000 buy, will go up in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada in the next few weeks, extending Carson’s television presence to all four early-voting states.

“We haven’t made any bones about it, we’re going to be aggressive in the early voting states,” Watts said. “We’re polling in first or second in all four, so we’re going to do whatever is necessary.”

Furthermore, the campaign is looking at a longer strategy that extends to the so-called “SEC primary states,” the half-dozen or so Southern states that will hold their primaries in early and mid-March.

Here, the campaign is looking to spend $5 million to $10 million on new ads that will run later this year.

The campaign is also busy hiring new staff.