Demo­crat in Texas Se­nate race re­ports record-break­ing fundrais­ing

The Washington Post - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY ROBERT MOORE AND MICHELLE YE HEE LEE michelle.lee@wash­post.com Robert Moore re­ported from El Paso.

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.”

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