Millions paid early in race for Texas governor – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Money is pouring rapidly into the Texas governor’s race headlined by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who both reported massive early fundraisers on Monday, putting the campaign on an accelerated path to become one of the most expensive in the country in 2022.

O’Rourke said he raised $7.2 million in the weeks after he entered the race in mid-November – a large amount by Texas Democrat standards and an early marker of his ability. to remain a fundraising powerhouse after failed bids for the US Senate and the presidency. .

Abbott said he raised more than double that amount in the final months of 2021 and now has $65 million at his disposal, underscoring his status as the most prolific fundraising governor in the history of the country and how his operation is supercharged by six- and seven-figure donations from wealthy Texas executives.

Texas has no limits on campaign contributions.

“These generous contributions from people across Texas show how excited Texans are for this campaign,” said Abbott, whose campaign said in a statement that about one in four of its most recent donors were contributors. for the first time.

The announcement for both campaigns only included high-profile numbers and not where Abbott and O’Rourke lent their support, or their biggest contributors.

O’Rourke’s campaign said the donations came “from all parts of Texas,” but did not provide a figure on how much came from state residents.

Abbott is seeking a third term and has attracted several GOP challengers for the first time, including former Texas GOP chairman Allen West and former state senator Don Huffines, who announced on Monday that more than $12 million had been collected for his campaign so far.

A full account of all campaign contributors is expected to be released this week.

O’Rourke has made the failures of last winter’s deadly power grid collapse in Texas a centerpiece of his underdog campaign. Executives of Texas oil and gas companies, who critics say dodged tougher regulations in the wake of blackouts, are among Abbott’s biggest donors.

“As Abbott cashes million dollar checks from CEOs who profited from the network collapse, we are getting support from people across Texas who want to make sure our state finally leads to great jobs, world-class schools and the ability to see a doctor,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke raised $80 million in his 2018 Senate campaign — at the time a record for that office — but his donors won’t be constrained this time by the limits of federal campaign finance law.

The race for governor is not won by donations alone. Although the amount of money a candidate has raised is significant, they only need to raise enough money to mount a successful campaign.

“While it’s true that people with more money have advantages over people with less money, at some point money becomes enough and enough is really the important issue here,” he said. said James Riddlesperger, professor of political science at Texas Christian University.

The money raised by Abbott, Riddlesperger said, gives him a strategic advantage over his opponents in the Republican Party and secures him more than 50% of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff.

For O’Rourke, Riddlesperger said if he won the primary and Democrats thought he had a chance to win again in November, donations would follow.

“If in April Democratic donors look up and say, ‘My God, Beto O’Rourke has a chance of winning this election,’ I don’t think you’ll find he’s struggling to fundraise because ‘He already has a national name and he’s already raised a lot of money in previous elections,’ Riddlesperger said.

Texas’ primary election will be held on March 1, the first in the country this year. Early voting begins Feb. 14, and the last day to register to vote in the primary is Jan. 31.

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