The campaign of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) announced he raised $38.1M during the third quarter, a record not only for Texas but also the Nation. The previous record was held by New York Republican Rick Lazio, who raised $22M in a quarter during an unsuccessful campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2000.
This quarter’s haul more than doubles the amount O’Rourke had raised for the entire campaign to date ($23.5) and brings his total to at least $61.5M. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R) campaign previously announced he raised $12M during the third quarter. This figure likely includes funds raised for two additional PACs. As of June 30, Cruz had raised $14.2M for his re-election campaign PAC, so this quarter’s total likely puts his total raised to date between $22M and $25M, which would be the most in state history for a U.S. Senate nominee but for O’Rourke.
No Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race in Texas since former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) in 1988. O’Rourke has now raised $14M more than Bentsen for his 1988 campaign and every Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate since combined.
It is highly likely that O’Rourke has already raised more than every Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate from Texas since at least 1978 combined. Campaign finance records from before 1982 are generally not available on the Federal Election Commission’s web site, and the agency itself only goes back to 1975. Based on what we could find online, we estimate that Lloyd Doggett raised $5.6M for his 1984 race against Phil Gramm, and Bentsen raised $3.6M for his 1982 race against Jim Collins. Adding those to the amounts raised between 1988 and 2014 brings their collective total to $56.7M. It is unlikely that Bob Krueger raised more than $4.7M for his 1978 race against then-Sen. John Tower (R), which would mean that O’Rourke has out-raised the last 14 Democratic nominees for U.S. Senate combined.
O’Rourke in one quarter, operating under strict individual campaign contribution limits, raised nearly as much as Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has collected since January 1, 2017. State law does not limit the amount of contributions to candidates. Abbott raised $5.7M – about one seventh as much as O’Rourke – between July 1 and September 27. Abbott, the most prolific fundraiser in state history, has raised $71.5M since January 1, 2015. O’Rourke has raised $62.1M during the same period.
O’Rourke has also, in one quarter, nearly raised as much as former Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) collected for her campaign during the 2013-14 election cycle ($40.4M). Davis raised millions more for two other PACs that did not directly go to her campaign.
O’Rourke is less than $1M away from topping Tony Sanchez, the 2002 Democratic nominee for governor, for the most money raised by any Texas candidate for non-national office in a two-year election cycle. Sanchez raised $62.4M for his unsuccessful race, of which he personally contributed $56.6M.
Despite his record-shattering contribution total, O’Rourke continues to trail Cruz by high single-digits, at least according to polls by Quinnipiac Univ. and the New York Times/Siena Coll. released yesterday.
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