Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke out-fundraises opponent Ted Cruz

O'Rourke's rise has turned Texas from "Solid Republican" to "Likely Republican," according to CNN

By Nicole Karlis

Senior Writer

Published February 28, 2018 7:00AM (EST)

Beto O'Rourke (Getty/Pete Marovich)
Beto O'Rourke (Getty/Pete Marovich)

Lloyd Bentsen was the last Democrat to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Texas — and that was in 1988. After nearly three decades under Republican rule, a blue wave is encroaching upon the state of Texas, a wave that may well begin in the Senate.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Senate candidate from El Paso, has out-fundraised Ted Cruz, the first-term Republican senator and former presidential candidate — again. From the start of the year to mid-February, O’Rourke raised $2.3 million for his campaign. In the same span, Cruz raised merely $800,000, as CNN reports. This is a continuing trend for O'Rourke: towards the end of 2017, O'Rourke was in the news cycle for outraising Cruz by $2.4 million to $1.8 million. O'Rourke's fundraising numbers reflect the momentum and enthusiasm surrounding his campaign.

The overwhelmingly strong fundraising numbers are but one reason that CNN has moved Texas from the "Solid Republican" to the "Likely Republican" column.

Rep. O'Rourke, 45, serves on the House Committees for Armed Services and Veterans Affairs as a U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district. His main issues of concern include improving access to quality health care, investing in infrastructure to create jobs and giving low-income Americans access to reproductive health services. O'Rourke recently introduced the “No PAC Act,” a bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 which would prohibit Congressional candidates from “accepting contributions from any political committee other than an authorized committee of the candidate and from establishing a leadership PAC [Political Action Committee]."

O’Rourke told CBS News' Elaine Quijano in an interview on "Red & Blue” that he is feeling good about the Senate race.

“I feel pretty confident," O'Rourke told Quijano. "There's something I've never seen happening in Texas . . . Republican, Democrat, Independent . . . are getting off the sidelines and into the game . . . they know that everything that matters to them and their families is on the line right now and they're getting involved. Turnout is up over 100 percent in the Democratic primaries so far during early voting and it's down in early Republican voting. This bodes well for what we're going to see in the November election, but we aren't taking anything for granted."

Houston Public Media reported that O’Rourke has even been drawing crowds in very red regions. Hundreds attended his campaign rally in Tarrant County — a large county that voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

Despite Trump’s previous rivalry with Cruz, the president publicly endorsed him on Feb. 27, perhaps a sign that the GOP is nervous about O’Rourke’s rising star.

“I want to encourage all of my many Texas friends to vote in the primary for Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Ted Cruz, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Attorney General Ken Paxton. They are helping me to Make America Great Again! Vote early or on March 6th,” Trump tweeted on Feb. 27.

By Nicole Karlis

Nicole Karlis is a senior writer at Salon, specializing in health and science. Tweet her @nicolekarlis.

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Beto O’rourke Donald Trump Midterm 2018 Elections Polling Ted Cruz Texas Texas Senate Race