Texas governor race: Abbott, O'Rourke haul in big bucks

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There’s a popular and well-used saying that “everything is bigger in Texas.” 

And that certainly seems to be true when it comes to campaign fundraising in the Lone Star State’s 2022 gubernatorial showdown.

Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke announced on Tuesday that he brought in a record $7.2 million in the 46 days from his mid-November campaign launch through the close of most recent Texas fundraising period at the end of the year.

And Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who’s running this year for a third term steering Texas, reported hauling in nearly $19 million during the six-month July through December period, with more than $65 million cash on hand.

O’Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso who came close to ousting conservative Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 election before launching an unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, raised $2 million in the first 24 hours after he announced his candidacy for governor. This campaign says the overall haul is a record for a Democratic candidate in Texas.

Texas Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign event in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 3, 2021.
(AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

“I’m grateful to everyone who helped us raise more than $7.2 million in the first weeks of our campaign,” O’Rourke said in a statement. 

And he charged that “while Abbott is taking million-dollar checks from the CEOs who profited off of the grid collapse, we’re receiving support from people all over Texas who want to ensure that our state finally leads in great jobs, world-class schools and the ability to see a doctor.”

O’Rourke has a history of strong fundraising. He grabbed national attention by hauling in over $80 million in his bid to unseat Cruz. And in 2019 he brought in $9.4 million during the first two and a half weeks of his presidential campaign.’

O’Rourke’s team said his gubernatorial fundraising came from 115,600 contributors, with 80% of the funds coming from online donors. They did not release a cash on hand figure.

The governor’s campaign said Abbott’s contributions the last six months of 2021 came from nearly 159,000 donors, with an average contribution of $119.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a press conference at the Texas state Capitol in Austin on May 18, 2020.
(Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images)

Abbott said in a statement that his fundraising figures “show just how excited Texans are for this campaign.” 

While O’Rourke took aim at Abbott in his statement, the governor ignored his Democratic challenger. But he touted that his “donations will help us secure the future of Texas and keep us on a path toward an even brighter future.”

Candidates in the governor’s raced faced an end-of-Tuesday deadline to file their fundraising figures for the final six months of 2021 with the Texas Ethics Commission

The filing of the reports comes with six weeks to go until the Texas primary on March 1.

While O’Rourke’s facing nominal opposition in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Abbott’s facing GOP challenges from more than half a dozen contenders, including former Texas GOP chair Allen West, a former congressman from Florida, and former state Sen. Don Huffines.

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