Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke may have “hit a wall” in terms of support, according to pollsters this week, but that hasn’t put a damper on his fundraising.
Mr. O’Rourke’s bid to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz reported a bumper crop of dollars Friday, setting a record for the largest fundraising quarter ever in a U.S. senate race, his campaign said.
All told, Mr. O’Rourke brought in $38.1 million, according to the campaign.
The campaign also boasted that the fundraising surge was powered by 802,836 individual contributions and “without a dime from PACs, corporations or special interests.”
“This is a historic campaign of people: all people, all the time, everywhere, every single day — that’s how we’re going to win this election and do something incredible for Texas and our country at this critical moment,” Mr. O’Rourke said in a statement released by the campaign.
A contribution came from every one of Texas’ 254 counties, according to the campaign, and totaled three times the amount Mr. Cruz raised in the third quarter. That continues a quarterly streak of Mr. O’Rourke outraising Mr. Cruz, with Mr. O’Rourke’s second quarter take of $10.4 million more than doubling Mr. Cruz’s figure in that same period.
However, while Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign trumpets the fact it doesn’t take PAC money, its war chest is flush with money from various groups that have an agenda, according to the Center for Responsive Politics database. It shows Mr. O’Rourke’s top sectors for fundraising to be lawyers and their firms or groups OpenSecrets categorizes as “Democratic/liberal.” Those two sectors have accounted for more than $2.5 million in the 2018 cycle.
Of the 10 biggest contributors to Mr. O’Rourke in 2018, half of them are the employees of universities — the University of Texas, Rice, Stanford, the University of California and Harvard, according to OpenSecrets.
It’s that kind of haul, which has brought a quarter of a million dollars, that leads Mr. Cruz to attack Mr. O’Rourke as the darling of the fashionable left-wing and coastal liberals. In an appearance in Plano last week, Mr. Cruz predicted a third quarter take of at least $30 million for his opponent.
Mr. O’Rourke has ridden his phenomenal fundraising and fawning coverage from Hollywood and many media outlets to mount a surprisingly strong bid for the senate in a state that hasn’t had a Democrat occupying one of its two seats there since 1993 and last elected a Democratic senator in 1988.
• James Varney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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