U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso, raised over $6.7 million for his U.S. Senate bid in the first quarter of 2018, according to his campaign, a staggering number that poses a new category of threat to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.
The haul is easily O'Rourke's biggest fundraising quarter yet, more than double his next-closest total for a three-month period. It also is more than any Democratic Senate candidate nationwide took in last quarter, O'Rourke's campaign said.
Cruz has not released his first-quarter fundraising numbers yet, but O'Rourke's $6.7 million total is on a different level than his previous hauls, which ranged from $1.7 million to $2.4 million. Those alone were good enough to outraise Cruz for three of the last four reporting periods.
Furthermore, the $6.7 million total came from more than 141,000 contributions — another record-busting number for O'Rourke.
Ted Cruz has got to be terrified at this point. He knows that he's in for the fight of his life, and he could actually lose.
"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," O'Rourke said in a statement.
O'Rourke's campaign released the fundraising statistics Tuesday morning ahead of the April 15 deadline to report it to the Federal Election Commission. Cruz has not offered any numbers for the full quarter, though he disclosed raising $803,000 through the first 45 days of the year — a fraction of O'Rourke's $2.3 million for the same timeframe.
On Tuesday morning, O'Rourke's team did not volunteer its cash-on-hand figure, but the $6.7 million raised is likely to go a long way toward closing his deficit with Cruz in money to spend. As of mid-February, O'Rourke had $4.9 million in the bank to Cruz's $6 million.
O'Rourke unveiled the $6.7 million figure on the second day of a three-day, 12-city trip by Cruz to mark the official start of his re-election campaign. O'Rourke is also hitting the road — he plans to hold town halls in 15 cities over the next six days.
At this point, Cruz's seat is in play. It's something the Democrats absolutely need to win if they have any chance of taking the Senate in a year where they need two pickups while having to defend ten Trump state Senate seats, and again, tens of millions of dollars are going to be spent by the GOP to knock out Jon Tester, Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, Joe Manchin, and Joe Donnelly.
But guess what? Ted Cruz is far from the only big name Republican in trouble whose Democratic challenger is raising big bucks to take them on.
The top Democrat challenging Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) raised $2.1 million during the first quarter of 2018, his campaign announced on Monday.
Randy Bryce’s campaign said it has raised $4.75 million since last June and has nearly $2.3 million in cash on hand.
The campaign also said it added 45,000 new donors since the beginning of the year.
Bryce’s bid to unseat Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st District began last June with a fundraising campaign that netted more than $100,000 in its first 24 hours.
The ironworker raised $1 million in the third quarter of 2017 and had raised approximately $2.7 million by the end of 2017, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Randy Bryce has a much tougher battle than O'Rourke does, if you can believe that a Democrat in Texas has a better shot of winning than a Wisconsin one. But Paul Ryan is the most prolific fundraiser in DC. He raised an obscene $44 million last year and gave most of it to the RNC. He's fighting Bryce with his pocket change and leftovers, and that's still tens of million of dollars.
Randy's going to need your help too.
It's great if they win, but it can't come at the expense of the seats we already have in hand. If we can hold the line here, we can finish off the GOP in 2020 and 2022. Let's make sure we can keep the seats we do have in the House and Senate.