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Texas GOP, Cruz Claim They’re Running Scared: Could O’Rourke Really Win?

Beto O'Rourke at texas democratic convention

Texas Democrats would just as soon forget the last quarter century. It’s been that long since their party won a statewide election in the Lone Star State. But this year Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) has the bankroll to pull off a stunning upset and help shift the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

O’Rourke reported $6.7 million in campaign contributions in the first three months of 2018, more than any other Texan running for the U.S. Senate has ever raised.

“We’re very happy with the number and very grateful because it’s a lot of Texans deciding that this is a campaign worth supporting,” O’Rourke said at the time. “It’s a great sign for us given what we are trying to do.”

Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, told the El Paso Times O’Rourke’s ability to collect small contributions from a large number of people meant he could go back to the same donors during the next three months of fundraising.

"There is incredibly strong and robust support for O'Rourke within the Democratic grassroots in Texas," Jones said. "Not only are they giving him considerable amounts of money for a Democrat but, because there's so many and they haven't given the max, he'll be able to go back and ask them to give again."

Now, O’Rourke has done something no Texas Democratic Party candidate has done before. The Democrat raised more than $10.4 million in the second quarter to fund his race to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in November. The Washington Times reported Sen. Cruz was expected to report second-quarter contributions of $4 million.

O’Rourke said the average donation to his campaign was $33.

“In the last three months, all of us together, without PACs [political action committees] or corporations, or special interests, have raised more than $10.4 million,” O’Rourke said. “That comes from 215,714 individual contributors, most of them from Texas, giving 15, 25, 50 bucks at a time.”

Kyle Whatley, executive director of the state’s Republican Party, warned donors in a July fundraising email that the O’Rourke campaign was on its way to Hollywood to seek donations “from leftist progressives who will destroy our state.”

Republican Party of Texas Political Director Stephen Wong said in a note attached to Whatley’s email that a recent poll showed Cruz only led O’Rourke by 2 points. The survey conducted by Civiqs through July 4 showed Cruz with 48 percent support from likely voters. Forty-six percent of Texas voters said they’d cast a ballot for O’Rourke if the election were held the day they were surveyed.

Before any GOPer gets too apoplectic, the Real Clear Politics Average of polls May 19 through July 7 had Cruz in the lead by 8.4 points. The most recent of the polls RCP included in its Cruz-O’Rourke rundown was a Gravis Marketing survey that had Cruz leading O’Rourke by 9 points.