O’Rourke narrows fundraising gap with Cruz for Senate seat

State & Regional

With one week remaining for Texans to register to vote, two front-runners in the race for Texas’ junior Senate seat in Washington hit the road to campaign in the Lone Star State.

Challenger Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman and Democratic front-runner, highlighted his weekend with a 24-hour livestream on Facebook as he made campaign stops in Dallas, Houston and Austin, wrapping up the weekend with a 1:30 a.m. speech to students at the University of Texas.

“Amidst this darkness, and this uncertainty about the future of this country, there are some real extraordinary wonderful positive people who are going to make sure that we get this back on the right track,” O’Rourke told the Austin crowd, with similar messages at the other events. O’Rourke also addressed immigration and Hurricane Harvey recovery, among other topics.

“A quarter of those who I represent in Congress were born in another country and chose to be here making the extraordinarily difficult decision to leave their hometown, their families, the language that they knew, something that they were familiar with to come to a strange land, learn a new language, so that yeah they could get a head and their kids could get ahead too,” O’Rourke said, “but that they could help all of us get ahead in contributing to the larger success of this country, to what it means to be an American, to this dream that we all hold and have and want to see realized.”

At a campaign event in Tyler, Texas on Saturday, incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a longtime supporter of a border wall, said it was “long past time to finally secure the border.”

“We are a nation of immigrants,” Cruz told reporters at the event. “My father came as an immigrant from Cuba to Texas in 1957, he was 18, he couldn’t speak English, he washed dishes making $0.50 an hour. That’s America, that’s who we are, but immigrants should come legally. They should follow the law, they should stand in line, and we will welcome as we have generations after generation those immigrants who are coming seeking the American dream. But, they need to follow the law. Illegal immigration is wrong and it’s time to stop it.”

The intense campaigning comes as newly-revealed financial filings indicate O’Rourke cut into Cruz’s fundraising lead. These two candidates released their new fundraising totals approaching Wednesday’s deadline to report to the Federal Election Commission.

O’Rourke’s campaign brought in $2.4 million in the FEC’s fourth quarter of 2017, while Cruz raised $1.9 million, his staff confirmed. Cruz closed the year with nearly $7.3 million cash on hand, while O’Rourke ended with $4.6 million available.

Cruz raised $7.1 million for the year, according to a campaign spokesperson. O’Rourke’s press team said he raised $6.2 million since announcing his candidacy in March.

The two have battled in the bank since the start, as filings show O’Rourke hauled more than Cruz in the second quarter, and Cruz raised more than O’Rourke in the third quarter.

“We are only going to rely on real live people, human beings, no corporations or special interests,” O’Rourke said, making a point that he has not accepted “a dime of [Political Action Committee] money.”

The last time a Texas Democrat held a U.S. Senate seat was 1994.

El Paso democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, U.S. Senate candidate, (left) at an event in Austin on Jan. 29, 2018. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, (right) at a campaign stop in Tyler, Texas two days prior. (L: Nexstar/Fabian Mendoza. R: Nexstar/Daniel Pierce)

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