Shattering a record for a U.S. Senate race previously set nearly two decades ago, Congressman Beto O'Rourke—the progressive Texas Democrat vying to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz—revealed Friday that he raised $38.1 million in the last quarter, more than three times Cruz's $12 million from the same three-month period.
"We're doing something absolutely historic—not just ensuring that we have the resources to run and to win, but to make sure that our democracy once again is powered by people and only people."
—Rep. Beto O'Rourke
Unlike his opponent, O'Rourke doesn't take money from political action committees (PACs), special interest groups, or corporations. In a video posted to Twitter on Friday, the candidate noted that his record-setting third-quarter haulcame from more than 800,000 unique contributions.
"It's going to give us the resources we need to finish this campaign as strong as we possibly can," he said. "We're doing something absolutely historic—not just ensuring that we have the resources to run and to win, but to make sure that our democracy once again is powered by people and only people."
You just raised a record-breaking $38.1 million in three months. From 802,836 contributions. No PACs, no special interests, no corporations. All people, all the time, everywhere, every single day. pic.twitter.com/IDMFNFwezB
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) October 12, 2018
For context, NBC News noted that while a pair of Democrats in other competitive Senate races raised about $7 million each during the third quarter, O'Rourke raised even more between July and September than former President Barack Obama in the quarter before the 2008 Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary ($23.5 million) and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the third quarter of 2015 (about $30 million).
New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher pointed out on Twitter that the congressman's final fundraising figure for the quarter is also higher than the amount Republican Jeb Bush raised during his entire 2016 presidential campaign.
Some context on @BetoORourke's $38.1 million raised in a quarter.
Jeb Bush's entire 2016 presidential campaign raised $35.5 million.
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) October 12, 2018
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"The people of Texas in all 254 counties are proving that when we reject PACs and come together not as Republicans or Democrats but as Texans and Americans, there's no stopping us," O'Rourke added in a statement. "This is a historic campaign of people: all people, all the time, everywhere, every single day—that's how we're going to win this election and do something incredible for Texas and our country at this critical moment."
While recent polls have shown O'Rourke trailing Cruz by eight or nine points, the race has garnered national attention, as the Democrat's defense of professional athletes' kneeling for the national anthem spread virally online, the Texas GOP's attacks on him backfired spectacularly, and legendary musician Willie Nelson, in his first-ever political fundraiser, pledged his support for O'Rourke.
Although O'Rourke has consistently outraised Cruz, garnering small donations from Texans and progressives nationwide, the Republican incumbent and former presidential contender has the help of PACs and some deep-pocketed locals. As Politico outlined:
The Center for Responsive Politics has tracked over $5.3 million either supporting Cruz or opposing O’Rourke. The single biggest spender is the Texans Are PAC, whose single biggest funder is Lee Roy Mitchell and his wife Tandy, who founded the Cinemark movie chain. Shipping magistrate Richard Uihlein, who has also funded insurgent Republicans across the country, is also a significant donor.
Club for Growth Action and End Spending Action Fund, two other Republican super PACS, have also both spent north of $1 million on the race.
Meanwhile, Politico noted, "There's been a little over $300,000 in either pro-O'Rourke or anti-Cruz outside spending."
The candidates debated each other in September. A second debate scheduled for later in September was postponed and has not been rescheduled, but they are set to face off again on Oct. 16. Cruz declined to participate in back-to-back town halls on CNN next week, but O'Rourke is slated to appear for the hourlong program on Oct. 18.