When Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his campaign to challenge Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his seat, he promised not to accept campaign donations from political action committees (PACs) despite the potential financial disadvantage.
One year later, he’s showing he may not need PAC cash. His campaign pulled in $6.7 million from more than 141,000 contributors in the first quarter of 2018—reportedly a record-breaking feat. According to the Dallas Morning News, “outside of self-funding, that’s more than any Texan has raised in a single reporting period for a U.S. Senate contest in at least three decades, if not in history.”
“We’re absolutely running this race the right way—not taking any PAC money, going to every single county and holding town halls across Texas where anyone can ask any question,” O’Rourke said in a statement on the fundraising announcement. “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.”
Polling in the race has shown conflicting results, but a January poll conducted on behalf of End Citizens United, a political action committee dedicated to electing campaign finance reformers that has endorsed O’Rourke, had Cruz leading by eight points. Another recent poll from the Texas Politics Project found that roughly 40 percent of those surveyed in the state didn’t know who O’Rourke was or had no opinion of him.
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News of O’Rourke’s fundraising haul came after Cruz officially launched his campaign for re-election on Monday. Cruz, who has not yet released his campaign’s fundraising totals for the first quarter, according to the Dallas Morning News, has spent much of his time in the Senate pushing his opposition to abortion rights, LGBTQ rights, and the Affordable Care Act—and highlighting his extreme views in order to mount a failed bid for the White House in 2016.
Meanwhile, 54 percent of Texans disapprove of President Trump, according to Gallup’s 2017 year-long polling average. Cruz has voted in line with the president’s positions 91.2 percent of the time, according to data from FiveThirtyEight.