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Texas Democratic Senate candidate Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his campaign raised more than $10.4 million this quarter, beating incumbent opponent Sen. Ted Cruz’s $4.6 million in the same period.
O’Rourke, who currently represents Texas’s 16th congressional district, made the announcement on a Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday night. O’Rourke, who doesn’t take PAC money, relied on 215,714 individual contributions with an average donation of $33 for the campaign haul. This also beats his $6.7 million fundraising total from last quarter.
“You have made something absolutely extraordinary happen in Texas,” O’Rourke said in the broadcast. “Extraordinary because we can’t find many other Senate races that have raised this kind of money in a three-month period. We can’t find one in Texas, maybe ever, that has done this. And to do it in this way, through small-dollar contributions — that’s what democracy looks like.”
O’Rourke now has $14 million on hand just four months before the November midterm elections. His total fundraising has now reached $23.7 million, roughly matching that of Cruz.
O’Rourke’s fundraising success has increasingly given hope to Democrats that have wanted to turn Texas blue and bring an end to GOP domination of the state. He’s got more going for him than just money, too, Politico’s Ben Schreckinger points out.
“He’s very charismatic, he has a sort of cult like following and he projects an optimistic message at a time where people are looking for that,” Schreckinger, who profiled O’Rourke for Politico, told CBSN’s Elaine Quijano.
O’Rourke’s campaign has also been making a relentless effort to reach as many voters as possible. He’s already visited all 254 counties in Texas, and is planning another month long road trip in August while the House is in recess.
History may not work in his favor, though. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide since 1994. Polls show little sign that this is changing anytime soon either, with a recent CBS poll showing Cruz ahead by 10 points.
“It’s a real uphill battle. Only a candidate who seems to have the charisma and the magnetism that O’Rourke has could even hope to pull off this upset in Texas in an off year election, Schreckinger said. “But it’s possible.”
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