U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, outraised U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, in the third quarter of the year, stretching his big cash advantage over his likely rival in the 2018 general election.
The Cruz campaign announced that it had raised more than $2 million in July, August and September, and had nearly $6.4 million in cash on hand.
The O’Rourke campaign reported raising $1.7 million during the same period, leaving it with $2.8 million in cash on hand.
That Cruz, an incumbent who demonstrated enormous fundraising prowess as a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, should raise more money than a relatively unknown challenger who is refusing to take any PAC money, is not surprising. But, in the previous three months, just after O’Rourke launched his candidacy for Senate, O’Rourke outraised Cruz, $2.1 million to $1.6 million.
“Every day, Sen. Cruz is working to advance Texans’ interests in Washington, D.C., and his consistent fundraising strength is reflective of the Lone Star State’s endorsement of his leadership,” senior communications adviser Catherine Frazier said in announcing the new numbers
In his statement, O’Rourke took pride in his success in raising money without reliance on political action committee contributions.
“Unlike nearly every single other campaign in the country, we don’t take PAC money and are 100 percent focused on Texans, our communities across the state and the things we can do together to make Texas better,” O’Rourke said.
University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said he was surprised that the fundraising for both candidates was not stronger in what should be a good fundraising period ahead of the holidays.
“I was sure Cruz would tap his donor base to put more hay in the barn for advertising in February,” ahead of the March party primaries, Rottinghaus said. Cruz is likely to face a couple of little-known candidates in the Republican primary.
“I think O’Rourke’s numbers are adequate but not overly impressive,” Rottinghaus said, noting that he is attempting to fund the campaign both without PAC money and without devoting himself to dialing donors for dollars.
O’Rourke so far does not have a primary opponent, but Rottinghaus said, “he is going to need every dollar of that $1.7 million he raised for an ad buy in February” to introduce himself to Texas voters and try to excite Democrats about his candidacy.
“He cannot win this race on Facebook,” Rottinghaus said. Rottinghaus speculated that some Democratic donors may be waiting to see if the rest of a still unformed Democratic statewide ticket will come together in a way that gives O’Rourke some prospect of success.
According to the Cruz campaign, in the third quarter, it received 25,977 individual donations from 17,941 unique donors, with 4,728 first-time donors. The campaign also reported 24,768 donations of less than $100, with the average third-quarter gift $76.
According to the O’Rourke campaign, it received 32,969 individual donations, and 76 percent of the contributions were from Texas.