WASHINGTON — The Texas Democrat hoping to oust Sen. Ted Cruz is posting his largest campaign fundraising haul yet: $2.4 million.
El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke, now touring the state in a blitz of town halls, announced the figures on Sunday during a live-streamed campaign rally in Houston.
It’s the second time O’Rourke has out-raised the Republican favorite in a single fundraising quarter. Following O’Rourke’s news, the Cruz campaign announced it brought in $1.9 million in the final quarter of 2017.
But the sitting senator raised a total of $7.1 million in 2017, according to a spokeswoman for Cruz, and closed the year with a sizable $7.3 million in cash on hand. O’Rourke heads into the election year with $4.6 million in cash.
According to figures released by the O’Rourke campaign — a few days ahead of when federal filings are due — the congressman exceeded his previous quarterly tallies and raised the $2.44 million through 55,567 donations between September and December.
O’Rourke has sworn off the help of political action committees. According to the campaign, more than 70 percent of the last quarter’s donations came from Texas, and none of the funds came from loans.
“The intensity of support and breadth of that support is really encouraging,” O’Rourke said in an interview with The Dallas Morning News. “Money is not the most important thing, but it is important, and it will be critical to our chances in the upcoming primary in March and the election.”
The outgoing congressman faces a nominal early test in the upcoming March 6 primary. Then, O’Rourke faces Democratic challengers Sema Hernandez, a self-described “progressive Berniecrat” from Houston, and Edward Kimbrough, who according to his website is a retired U.S. Postal Service employee from the Houston area. Federal campaign finance reports are not yet available for Hernandez nor Kimbrough.
Though O’Rourke is considered the likely victor in the primary, he said: “You just can’t take anything for granted.”