Beto O’Rourke Raised $38 Million in Quarter for Cruz Challenge

(Bloomberg) -- Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke said Friday he raised more than $38.1 million in the third quarter for his bid to topple Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a record amount flowing into what remains a long-shot campaign.

The total is more than three times the roughly $12 million Cruz has said he raised during the quarter for the final stretch of campaigning before the Nov. 6 election and is all but certain to make O’Rourke the top fundraiser for the quarter among all Democratic congressional candidates.

O’Rourke’s campaign said the fundraising was "powered by 802,836 individual contributions and without a dime from (political action committees), corporations or special interests" and that the "majority" of the money came from Texas donors.

The amount is far more than any other Senate candidate has ever raised in a single quarter, according to Michael Malbin, executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, which studies money in politics. The next closest was Florida Republican Rick Scott, the state’s governor, who reported taking in $22.5 million in the second quarter of this year, much of that his own money.

O’Rourke previously had raised $23.6 million through the second quarter. That’s part of what has helped him make the race surprisingly close in heavily Republican Texas, but polls over the past few weeks showed Cruz opening a significant lead over the U.S. representative from El Paso.

The O’Rourke haul may be the top national example of Democratic donors funneling cash to long-shot candidates with strong personal appeal sometimes at the expense of lower-profile races that will be more pivotal to party efforts to win the House and Senate. O’Rourke is a rising Democratic Party star who’s drawn national attention to his campaign, and money has poured into the Texas race as party donors look for ways to channel their anger with President Donald Trump.

Yet O’Rourke faces major hurdles. Republicans control all statewide offices in Texas, both houses of the Legislature and a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t carried the state since 1976. In the March 6 primary, 1.3 million Republicans turned out to vote for Cruz compared with 641,000 Democrats who cast ballots for O’Rourke.

Democrats are fighting to flip at least 23 Republican-held House seats in November to win a majority. The party will have a tougher time gaining control of the Senate, where they have 26 seats to defend, compared with just nine for Republicans, who have a 51-49 edge in the chamber.

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