Texas Democrat and U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke raised a record-setting $6.7 million in the first three months of the year, according to the Dallas Morning News. He still trails Ted Cruz in the polls, however, in a solidly red state which has not seen a Democrat elected to the Senate in 18 years.
The popular young Congressman from El Paso has set the country on fire as he has been running much better than expected against Cruz, who is one of the most disliked politicians in America, even by those in his own party.
O’Rourke’s fundraising total for the first quarter is more than any political candidate has ever raised in Texas in a single reporting period for a U.S. Senate contest, according to the Federal Election Commission.
O’Rourke’s total was released by his campaign committee a full two weeks before the federal filing deadline. The $6.7 million is nearly triple his previous best quarter of $2.4 million in the last three months of 2017. It also shows that there is excitement and momentum building for the photogenic Democrat who won the Democratic primary on March 6.
“It’s clearly a sign of how badly Texans want change and want this country … on the right course,” O’Rourke said in an interview.
O’Rourke has gotten a lot of attention for his campaign strategy which involved him personally visiting 228 of Texas’ 254 counties over the past year. He has also refused to accept any money from political action committees (PACs).
O’Rourke also pointed out his $6.7 million in new funds came from over 141,000 individual contributions, and 70 percent of those came from his home state.
“This is totally on the people of Texas, and the people of Texas are standing up and taking ownership of this campaign,” he said, adding: “This is less about a candidate and certainly not about a party, and all about Texas. I’m really just part of something larger that’s going on right now.”
Despite this optimism, O’Rourke’s performance in the Democratic primary disappointed his followers, since he got just 62% of the vote and his opponents were unknown and they spent no money.
Political analysts in the Lone Star State are of the opinion that O’Rourke still has a long way to go in getting better acquainted with voters. They do believe, however, that the charismatic O’Rourke will help increase voter turnout for Democrats in the fall even if he doesn’t beat Cruz.
“It’s clear that this is going to be an uphill battle, but at the same time the Democrats are going to need someone like O’Rourke who’s going to invest and energize the Democratic Party and its voters,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston.
“Although he’s unlikely to win, the fact that he can energize Democrats in places otherwise they may not come to vote is positive for the party in the long run. He’s running a strategy that will be effective in 10 years, but not 10 months.”