U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) reported raising $6.7 million in the first quarter of 2018 for his challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a shockingly high number that represents an existential threat to Cruz’s prospects for a second term.
O’Rourke, who represents El Paso and the surrounding area, has been a prolific fundraiser – outraising Cruz in recent quarters – but his first quarter numbers are in a different league, far exceeding his previous record high of $2.4 million.
Even more impressive, O’Rourke’s campaign reported that the $6.7 million was raised from more than 141,000 contributors – a huge number for this stage of the campaign and a powerful sign of grassroots enthusiasm for O’Rourke.
“Campaigning in a grassroots fashion while raising more than $6.7 million from 141,000 contributions, we are the story of a campaign powered by people who are standing up to special interests, proving that we are more than a match and making it clear that Texans are willing to do exactly what our state and country need of us at this critical time,” O’Rourke said in a statement published in The Texas Tribune.
The El Paso congressman won the Texas primary in March, although his winning margin was lower than many expected and his performance in border counties – essential for a Democratic victory in Texas – was particularly weak.
Cruz launched a much panned attack on O’Rourke immediately after the primary, mocking O’Rourke’s use of the nickname “Beto” and accusing O’Rourke of using the name in place of the more staid Robert.
However, critics noted that Cruz also used a shortened first name – “Ted” instead of his given name Rafael.
While the debacle was probably more hat than cattle, it once again raised questions about Cruz’s authenticity – and about the possibility that Cruz’s ill-fated presidential bid, which flamed out as President Donald Trump trounced him, had damaged his standing with Texas voters.