U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has raised nearly three times as much money as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018.
O’Rourke, a third-term Democratic congressman from El Paso, has raised $2.3 million through Feb. 14 toward his U.S. Senate campaign. Cruz, a Houston Republican seeking his second term, raised $800,000.
While O’Rourke touted his bounty as soon as the fundraising reporting period closed on Feb. 14, Cruz has not yet announced the numbers in his fundraising report, which was due, on paper, with the secretary of the Senate at the end of last week. An electronic copy won’t be available for a few days. But The Dallas Morning News reported the figures contained in the report Friday.
Cruz continues to have a cash advantage over O’Rourke — $6 million to $4.9 million — but O’Rourke has been closing the gap.
According to O’Rourke’s campaign, the latest totals came from more than 43,000 contributions.
Asked about O’Rourke’s fundraising momentum at a recent campaign stop in New Braunfels on behalf of Republican congressional candidate Chip Roy, Cruz told reporters he does not underestimate the passion on the left.
“They’re angry, they hate the president,” Cruz said. “We’ve seen all across the country the Democrats’ fundraising numbers are through the roof because their base is so energized.”
“This is a volatile political time,” Cruz said. “That energy on the hard left is dangerous … if conservatives are complacent, if conservatives stay home. I hope that doesn’t happen.”
“There are a lot more conservatives than liberals in the state of Texas, but they have to show up at the polls for their votes to count,” Cruz said.
Responding to O’Rourke’s strong numbers, Cruz campaign spokeswoman Catherine Frazier pointed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
“Chuck Schumer did a great job,” Frazier said in a statement. “He came to Texas early in the year and got national liberals really excited about the chance to elect a pro-amnesty, anti-gun, pro-big government liberal to represent Texas. We don’t believe that’s the direction Texans want and are confident this will energize them to ensure they turn out to vote for someone who wants to keep taxes low, keep repealing regulations including Obamacare, and uphold the Texas values that have made and kept our state strong.”
O’Rourke has touted his refusal to accept any political action committee money.
While Cruz, thanks to his 2016 presidential campaign, has built an impressive national grass-roots donor base, PAC money has been an important part of his mix.
“The Club for Growth, the Senate Conservatives Fund, these are PACs, yes, but they are PACs without which Ted Cruz wouldn’t be in the United States Senate. Neither would (Utah Sen.) Mike Lee, neither would the other guys fighting for you right now,” Roy told the audience at a recent Comal County Republican Party candidate forum, explaining his reliance on PAC money.
According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll released Monday, Cruz is leading the four GOP rivals he faces in the March primary with 91 percent of the vote. The internet survey of 1,200 likely primary voters was conducted Feb. 1 to 12. Its margin of error for Republican primary results is 3.96 percentage points.
On the Democratic side, O’Rourke is leading two rivals with 73 percent support, compared with 19 percent for Sema Hernandez and 8 percent for Edward Kimbrough, both of Houston. But, before the respondents were pushed to make a choice, a third said they hadn’t thought enough about the race to have an opinion.
The poll’s margin of error on the Democratic side is 4.6 percentage points.
According to the poll, 29 percent of voters, regardless of party, have a favorable opinion of O’Rourke, 14 percent have an unfavorable view of him, 19 percent have neither a favorable or unfavorable impression, and a whopping 39 percent don’t know enough to form an opinion.
The poll found voters more settled and more negative in their opinion of Cruz — 40 percent positive, 42 percent negative, 12 percent neither favorable or unfavorable and 6 percent without an opinion.
The poll had an overall a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points.
O’Rourke, who has visited 221 of the state’s 254 counties, is holding a town hall-style meeting 1 p.m. Sunday at Pearl Snap Hall, 701 N. Austin Ave., in Georgetown.
On Monday, he will be going for a run with supporters, setting out at 6 a.m. at the Fannie Davis Town Lake Gazebo at 676 W Riverside Drive in Austin.
Correction: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong amount of money that U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has on hand.