AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Beto O'Rourke said Friday that he raised a record-breaking $38.1 million in the last three months, more than tripling the haul of his Republican opponent, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, in a Texas race that's become one of the country's hottest — if not its closest.
O'Rourke said the funding came from more than 800,000 donors nationwide despite refusing donations from outside political groups and declining to hire consultants and pollsters. The El Paso congressman has become a star in national liberal circles, and his totals through Sept. 30 broke quarterly Senate fundraising records for non-self-funded campaigns.
"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," O'Rourke said in a statement.
Cruz previously announced raising $12 million over the same period. He'd predicted, correctly as it turns out, that O'Rourke would triple that.
But O'Rourke's good news comes amid polls that have begun to show him trailing Cruz by about 10 points after closing to within striking distance earlier in the race. No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas since 1994.
Despite his longshot status, O'Rourke has now outraised Cruz every quarter but one since announcing in March 2017 that he was giving up his House seat to run for Senate. He's attracted attention throughout Texas and beyond with an energetic campaign that has taken him to all of the state's 254 counties — even deep red areas Democrats gave up on decades ago — and for a colorful background that includes a stint with a punk rock band.
All that money ensures both candidates will be able to flood the airwaves in major media markets around Texas before the Nov. 6 election. Cruz — and outside groups supporting him — have released a series of attack ads, criticizing O'Rourke for his stance on immigration and his publicly defending NFL player protests during the national anthem.
O'Rourke has refused to go negative, instead recently recording a 30-second TV spot in real-time on Facebook live, declaring: "You've probably seen the negative attack ads seeking to scare you about what we're trying to do for this country at this critical moment" and offering a message of unity instead.
Cruz has brushed off his opponent's war chest, saying that the "extreme left" is energized by hatred for President Donald Trump and that since there are more Republicans in Texas than Democrats, all he has to do is turn out his base to win.
Cruz also dismisses O'Rourke supporters as carpetbaggers, even though through most of the race the incumbent accepted more money from donors outside Texas than O'Rourke.