The campaign of Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke on Friday said it had raised $38.1 million in the past three months, bringing his total to nearly $62 million — an enormous haul that makes him one of the most successful fundraisers in American politics.
The three-term congressman far outstripped Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who reported raising $12 million over the past three months, bringing his total for 2017 and 2018 to about $28 million.
Nevertheless, Cruz maintains a lead over O’Rourke in recent polls, with a new Quinnipiac University poll finding Cruz ahead by nine percentage points.
The cascade of cash propelled O’Rourke past some of the biggest fundraisers on the national level, including then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) of New York, who broke records when she raised nearly $52 million for her 2006 reelection campaign.
The money O’Rourke reportedly raised from July through September shattered the previous record for a Senate candidate set by New York Republican Rick Lazio, who raised $22 million in one quarter during his unsuccessful 2000 run against Clinton, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
O’Rourke’s nearly $62 million haul exceeds the amounts raised by some 2016 presidential candidates, including former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley.
In a video to supporters Friday, O’Rourke touted his fundraising as a sign of the strong support he has from Texas voters, who have not elected a Democrat to the Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988.
“We’re doing something absolutely historic — not just ensuring we have the resources to run and to win, but to make sure that democracy once again is powered by people and only people,” O’Rourke said in the Facebook video message.
Mica Mosbacher, a GOP fundraiser in Texas, said Cruz’s conservative message will trump the Democrat’s money.
“O’Rourke might be making headlines, but his message is anti-conservative Texas values,” Mosbacher said.
O’Rourke’s campaign shared limited information from the third-quarter fundraising report, which will be filed with the Federal Election Commission and made public Monday.
The campaign said it drew contributions from about 802,000 donors. Officials said more than half the money raised in the third quarter came from people in Texas but did not say how many donors were in-state, and did not provide information about how much cash the campaign had left on hand.
O’Rourke’s fundraising success has drawn attention nationally, including from Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, who is locked in a legal battle with President Trump related to an alleged affair.
Avenatti, who is weighing a 2020 presidential run against Trump, encouraged his Twitter followers to donate to Cruz’s Democratic challenger.
But he was forced to drop the effort later in the day after O’Rourke supporters and others noted that half the money would have gone to Avenatti’s new political action committee.
“Splits happen all the time,” Avenatti wrote in a tweet defending his solicitation. “We raised money for Beto today that he otherwise would not have otherwise received.”
Robert Moore reported from El Paso.