O’Rourke raises $2M in first day of Texas governor campaign

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Beto O’Rourke said Wednesday he raised more than $2 million after announcing his campaign for Texas governor, showing an ability to still quickly pile up cash after coming off failed runs for the U.S. Senate and presidency.

The money came from more than 31,000 donations in the first 24 hours, with 57% of the contributions coming from Texas, spokesman Abhi Rahman said. Small donors have powered O’Rourke’s eye-popping fundraising hauls in the past, but his campaign did not disclose a breakdown of contribution sizes so far.

The numbers showed an early burst of enthusiasm for the former El Paso congressman, who in one day raised more money than the entire campaign of Democrats’ little-known candidate for Texas governor in 2018. But O’Rourke still has a long way to catch or even approach Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who this summer reported having at least $55 million in his campaign account, more than any incumbent governor in the country.

Abbott, who is seeking a third term, routinely collects six-figure donations in big money from Texas executives. Texas’ sheer size makes mounting a statewide campaign costly, and Abbott and O’Rourke are likely to make this among the most expensive governor’s races in the country.

O’Rourke raised $80 million in his 2018 Senate campaign — at the time a record for that office — but his donors will not be confined this time by federal campaign finance laws, since Texas has no limits on individual contributions.

O’Rourke launched his campaign Monday and is spending the first days of the race campaigning along the Texas-Mexico border, where Democrats are on the defensive after unexpected GOP gains there in 2020.

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