Cruz, O’Rourke raised $115M
Democrat took in $80M to spend in costliest Senate race Former president laid to rest on campus where he found instant connections
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke combined to raise nearly $115 million for their battle in 2018, obliterating previous campaign fundraising records.
O’Rourke took in the bulk of that money, raising just over $80 million by himself, according to new campaign finance reports made public by the Federal Election Commission on Friday. Cruz meanwhile ended up raising just over $34 million.
The combined $114.8 million is more than had ever been spent on a U.S. Senate race before this year. The previous record was $77 million spent in the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race in 2012.
O’Rourke raised the $80 million without the help of political action committees.
Cruz raised more than $1.6 million from political action committees.
New FEC reports show on the day before Election Day, Cruz received a $255,000 loan to help fund his campaign. The loan came from Goldman Sachs & Co., a firm where Heidi Cruz is an investment manager.
O’Rourke more than doubling Cruz’s fundraising wasn’t enough to bring him to victory. Cruz defeated O’Rourke by about 215,000 votes according to official election results certified this week. It was the closest U.S. Senate race in Texas since 1978. COLLEGE STATION — Former President George H.W. Bush was laid to rest Thursday at Texas A&M, a university he never attended, but one he made home in the final decades of his life. His grave sits behind his presidential library, near a pond where he used to fish. And it’s a short walk from his namesake school of government and public service, where he used to drop into classes, sometimes with foreign dignitaries in tow.
After selecting Texas A&M in 1991, Bush and his wife, Barbara, set up an apartment on campus and became a regular presence.
“I think the connection was almost instant,” said Mark Welsh, dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service. “He found thousands of kindred spirits here in Aggieland, and the place embraced him as much as he embraced it.”
A Yale graduate and longtime Houston resident, Bush had few former connections to Texas A&M. Yet before he was even sworn in as the 41st president, Aggies began lobbying him to choose the school for his library. A campus street was renamed in Bush’s honor. An alumnus circulated a memo showing Bush had won 79 percent of the student body’s vote in the 1988 election.
Bush called A&M Board of Regents Chairman Ross Margraves from Air Force One in 1991 to say he’d chosen the school over Yale and Rice University.
“Mr. President: Read my lips,” Margraves recalls saying. “You made my day.”
Bush was drawn to its traditions, militarism and emphasis on service, faculty said. And around campus, he became known for his down-to-earth demeanor. Bush was spotted pitching horseshoes with students, cheering on the baseball team from the stands and even doing shoulder presses at the gym.
And for Bush, a major selling point of Texas A&M was the public service school, faculty said. He took pride in the fact that 70 percent of graduates went onto careers in public service, like his own that spanned decades from Navy pilot to president.
“He told us many times that maybe his most important legacy as a former president was to
have that school, where young men and women could follow in his footsteps and do public service,” said James Olson, whom Bush recruited from the CIA to become a professor at the graduate school.
At the school’s dedication in 1997, Bush compared his excitement to the exhilaration of “parachuting out of a perfectly good airplane” (which he did to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the presidential library.)
Bush’s influence at the school helped attract top speakers and talent and he often interacted with students, faculty said. The former commander in chief was known to drop in on classes at the Bush School, even playing the role of president during Cabinet meeting simulations with students.
Once, Bush took former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to a class at the school for an hourlong discussion with 30 students, said Charles Hermann, the school’s first director.
When Bush learned one year that students were reading to preschoolers in Bryan for a literacy project, he asked to tag along.
“Sure enough, he and Barbara Bush jumped in the van and went with the students,” Hermann said. “He wanted to promote this idea as service; he liked that they were doing it.”
Until his health began to fail, the former president took a photo with each graduating class as they grew from 19 students to more than 200.
“I’ve heard him say, ‘The Bush Library is a building for history. The Bush School is a building for a future,’ ” Hermann said. “To designate College Station as the burial site, I think that’s a real signal to all of us an ongoing commitment to continue the ideas he represented.”
As politics grew increasingly partisan in Washington, D.C., Bush reached across the aisle with invitations to College Station. He presented an award in 2003 to Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who’d been critical of then-president George W. Bush’s approach to Iraq. More recently, Bush brought in the four other living former presidents for a Hurricane Harvey relief aid event.
Bush also felt an affinity to the school’s origins as a military college. Texas A&M still counts more than 2,400 students in the Corps of Cadets. Many stood at attention along the road Thursday as Bush’s casket was driven to the presidential library and his final resting place.
Many of the current undergraduates weren’t yet born when Bush was commander in chief. Still, he’s left an impression.
On Wednesday, hundreds of students gathered on sidewalks and the tops of parking garages
“She whipped them all, except for one,” Herring said.
Carrying battering rams, ballistic shields and assault weapons puts a physical strain on the squad members, he said.
“Holly is part of the team that goes in and makes entry to a location whenever it’s needed,” he said. “If she had not done as well as she did (in applicant testing), she would’ve never worked here. Being the only woman put a monkey on her back, but she did so well that it really doesn’t matter.”
Vizcarrando, who joined SAPD when she was 19, said she became a police officer “because I really wanted to help my community.” to watch the presidential plane carrying Bush’s casket fly low over campus. After a moment of silence, some students began to clap.
“He really represents what Texas A&M is about in terms of honor, dignity and respect,” said Blake Johnson, a freshman member of the Corps of Cadets who dressed in the khaki uniform.
The site of Bush’s grave is behind the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, and is expected to open to the public She decided to pursue the SWAT team seven years later because “they went above and beyond,” she said.
“They went into situations that most people didn’t want to go into, and it was just a step up from where I was at the time,” Vizcarrando said. “And I’m guessing that’s what’s driving Perla to excel, too.”
While Vizcarrando credited the people who saw her potential throughout her 28-year career with SAPD, there were many who were not as accepting, she said.
“I was constantly having to prove myself,” she said. “It was just the territory back then. It on Saturday.
Sharlene Dickey and her husband loaded their two children into the car at 5:30 a.m. Friday in Houston and set off for College Station. Then, in the pouring rain, they waited in line for the presidential library to open.
Dickey motioned to her 7-yearold son.
“Since he had 100 questions, I said, ‘Let’s make this trip so I can answer them,’ ” she said. was new.”
Vizcarrando recalled feeling like she and her colleagues were “trying to wing it” as they worked to join the team, and she added that “none of us had anybody to guide us.”
That feeling has prompted her to reach out to the women now in the department, whom she calls incredible — “so much more focused, so much more directed and driven than I remember being” — and she has contacted Dominguez to congratulate her.
The spotlight should remain on the new officer, Vizcarrando said.
“I just wanted to let her know that I’ve been where she’s at, I know how difficult it was to get there and how difficult it’s going to be there,” she said.
Friends, colleagues and those who looked up to Vizcarrondo recalled her work ethic and effort on the squad.
Both women “deserve credit for setting their goals and and making it happen, by pouring their blood, sweat and tears and hard work into becoming a member of the elite SAPD SWAT team,” one wrote on the SAPD Facebook page.
Another, posting on Vizcarrando’s page, recalled watching her beat out men for the spot on the team and said it was an accomplishment for anyone to reach.
“You landed on the moon first and we all saw your flag,” he wrote.
A member of the grounds crew at the George Bush Presidential Library in College Station closes the gate to the gravesite on Friday, the day after Bush was buried on the library’s grounds. The gravesite is expected to be opened to the public on Saturday.
The Urbasics, of Clear Lake, Minn., sign a guestbook at the George Bush Presidential Library on Friday in College Station, where the 41st president made a home in the final decades of his life.
Holly Vizcarrondo, right, then known as Holly Cheatham, appears with Sonya Dominguez in the 1990s. Vizcarrondo is the first woman selected for the SAPD’s SWAT team.