Thousands vs. millions
Beto O’Rourke, Democratic Congressman from El Paso announced his Senate candidacy just a few weeks ago. He has an impressive $500K in the bank, an amount that pales in comparison to Cruz’s $5 million.
O’Rourke had a successful first quarter, raising just over $200k. Not bad for a little known Congressman, but he has a long way to go if he wants to catch up with Cruz, who raised $1.7 million in that same timeframe.
From the El Paso Times:
According to the FEC filing, O’Rourke has raised $409,000 since December and spent about $86,000. With money left over from previous House campaigns, O’Rourke had $535,000 in the bank at the end of March.
And while he lags far behind Cruz in cash on hand, the number of contributions to O’Rourke signals wide grass-roots support, a political scientist said.
The 2017 numbers are a good start for O’Rourke, but far from what he’ll need to mount a serious challenge to Cruz, said University of Houston political science Professor Brandon Rottinghaus.
“Half a million dollars will you get you down the road, but it won’t get you to the finish line,” Rottinghaus said. “They need to focus on getting money in the bank that has multiple zeroes.”
In addition to the $5 million Cruz has in the bank, he has a well established fundraising mechanism, having run a state-wide race and a national campaign.
Politico had the skinny on Cruz’s early fundraising efforts:
Sen. Ted Cruz is sitting on a war chest of more than $5 million as he prepares for potentially stiff challenges in both a Republican primary and in the general election, according to numbers provided to POLITICO.
The Texas Republican raised about $1.738 million in the first three months of this year across his Senate reelection campaign, his political action committee and the Ted Cruz Victory Committee. He now has $5.2 million across those three committees, and $4.8 million of that is in his Senate reelection account.
O’Rourke has promised not to take PAC contributions and to limit his Senate service to two terms, should he be elected. The PAC contribution promise sounds virtuous, but depending on the kind of entity, those organizations can only legally donate $5k or less to a candidate. And that doesn’t stop a super PAC from running pro-O’Rourke ads either.
Rumor has it that Rep. Michael McCaul is considering throwing his hat in the Republican primary ring, but he’s yet to make his final decision public.
If Texas does end up with an O’Rourke v. Cruz race, the dynamics will be a fascinating watch.
Cruz, who ran as a beltway outsider the first time around is now the incumbent. He might be principled, but it’s hard to say what exactly he’s accomplished during his four-year tenure in the Senate, a large chunk of which he spent running for President. Cruz has the advantage in Harris County (the most populous in the state and home of Houston), where is support is strongest.
Meanwhile, O’Rourke is no typical Democrat, but is much more emblematic of Americans his age. He’s pro-term limits, pro-weed legalization, pro-immigration, is fluent in Spanish, and endorsed Hillary. He’s young, hipster-esque and may have an invorgorated Democratic army (and deep pockets) behind him.
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