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Beto O'Rourke shatters fundraising records with $38 million quarter

The massive haul rivals fundraising marks for presidential campaigns of the past.
Image: Willie Nelson joins Beto O'Rourke At Campaign Rally
Rep. Beto O'Rourke at a campaign rally on Sept. 29, 2018, in Austin, Texas.Drew Anthony Smith / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke announced Friday that his Senate campaign has raised an unprecedented $38.1 million in the last fundraising quarter, a sum that shatters records for Senate races and rivals totals from past presidential campaigns.

O’Rourke, who faces incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in November, has highlighted small donations from individuals and eschewed special interest PACs. His campaign noted Friday that more than 800,000 individuals have contributed to his campaign, which has benefited from viral moments that have enamored the young Democratic congressman to progressives nationwide.

"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 said in a statement.

The sum compares more readily to money raised in past presidential campaigns than to current Senate contests. Cruz has said he raised about $12 million over the past three months. (Neither candidate has disclosed how much money they have on hand.)

Two other Senate Democratic candidates running in competitive races this cycle — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Jack Rosen of Nevada — have announced raising about $7 million in the last quarter.

But Barack Obama, for example, raised $23.5 million in the final quarter before the 2008 Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, according to Federal Election Commission records. Candidate Hillary Clinton raised about $30 million in the third quarter of 2015 during her last presidential run.

Despite his huge financial advantage, it’s unclear that O’Rourke can convert dollars into votes in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in almost three decades. An unapologetic progressive who has praised NFL players who kneel during the national anthem and staked out relatively liberal positions on immigration, many observers have been skeptical that O’Rourke ideology will fly in a state that voted for President Donald Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found Cruz leading O’Rourke by 9 percentage points.