U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz's likely Democratic challenger has far outpaced the Texas Republican in fundraising so far this election year, federal filings show.
U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke from El Paso announced the news at a Friday town hall in Dallas, drawing cheers from the crowd -- and newfound attention for a race that has long been considered in the bag for the GOP.
Despite his still-long odds, O'Rourke raised approximately $2.3 million in the first six weeks of 2018, while Cruz took in only $800,000, according to a campaign finance report first obtained by the Dallas Morning News.
The Democratic upstart also spent roughly $800,000 more than Cruz in that period, the filing shows.
Cruz, whose high-profile and conservative credentials make him a heavy favorite in the race, still has more cash on hand. O'Rourke reported $4.9 million in his war chest, while Cruz has $6 million, the documents show.
In a statement, the Cruz campaign attributed the fundraising disparity to top Democratic influencers from outside Texas.
"The grassroots momentum of our people-powered campaign has shown its full force across the state ..."
"Chuck Schumer did a great job — he came to Texas early in the year and got national liberals really excited about the chance to elect a pro-amnesty, anti-gun, pro-big government liberal to represent Texas," a Cruz spokeswoman said in a statement.
O'Rourke has pledged not to accept corporate political action committee money, the Texas Tribune reported. PACs are expected to boost Cruz's efforts in the fall.
The Democrat highlighted his pledge in prepared remarks addressing the fundraising win.
"The grassroots momentum of our people-powered campaign has shown its full force across the state in the first 45 days of 2018, and it will continue to do so as Texans prove they're more than a match for the PACs and special interests," O'Rourke said.
The party primaries in the race will be held March 6, and both Cruz and O'Rourke are overwhelming favorites.