Posted by on November 26, 2021 8:01 am
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Beto O’Rourke raises $2M in 24 hours for long-shot gubernatorial bid. Will it help?

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, center, talks with the media during a campaign stop, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in San Antonio. O’Rourke announce Monday that he will run for Texas governor. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay/AP

Beto O’Rourke raises $2M in 24 hours for long-shot gubernatorial bid. Will it help?

Kate Scanlon November 26, 07:00 AMNovember 26, 07:00 AM

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke raised $2 million dollars in the first 24 hours of his bid, his campaign told the Texas Tribune. The former congressman has previously reported impressive fundraising numbers in unsuccessful bids for the Senate and the White House, leaving some asking if this race is any different.

The O’Rourke campaign called the sum a record “for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the first 24 hours” of a campaign and the most raised in the “first 24 hours of any campaign in 2021.”

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But O’Rourke’s reputation as a fundraising powerhouse doesn’t make his candidacy any less of a long shot. He is running against an incumbent governor, Greg Abbott, who has over $55 million in his campaign war chest. Polls show O’Rourke currently trailing Abbott in the Lone Star State, and he has to overcome the baggage of two previous failed campaigns.

In this race, O’Rourke does have some advantages: He is arguably Texas’s most widely known Democrat, and Abbott in September received his lowest-ever approval rating since taking office, with 50% disapproving of his job performance and just 41% supporting.

But impressive fundraising numbers didn’t lead to wins in his two previous campaigns.

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In 2018, as a little-known congressman from an El Paso-area district, O’Rourke launched a campaign against Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, raising a whopping $80 million, more than double what Cruz raised. O’Rourke rose to national prominence during that effort, noted for his ability to energize young voters. But some national Democrats questioned whether that money would be better spent in more winnable races. O’Rourke ultimately failed, but he came within 3% of Cruz.

O’Rourke then launched a bid for the Democratic nomination for president, where supporters hoped he could channel his fundraising prowess into a successful campaign, but he ultimately raised less some quarters than he did as a Senate candidate.

But in his new statewide campaign, some of the advantages O’Rourke enjoyed in 2018 are no longer there. In 2018, then-President Donald Trump had a historically unpopular approval rating heading into Election Day in the midterm elections, with an approval rating of just 39%. Now, President Joe Biden, a member of O’Rourke’s party, has a comparably low approval rating. Glenn Youngkin’s victory in Virginia and unexpected GOP gains in New Jersey suggest voters will lean toward Republicans next year, yet another hurdle for O’Rourke.

Joshua Blank, research director at the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, recently told Axios that O’Rourke was “a shiny new object” during his Senate bid, but “things after that have gotten a little more complicated.”

“Ultimately, running against Ted Cruz is an easy sell among Democrats,” Blank said. “Once he jumped into the 2020 presidential primary, he had to distinguish himself from other Democrats and that just by its nature creates more conflict, even within one’s party.”

Blank added that O’Rourke is “going to both benefit and face some costs by being a known quantity in 2022.”

Republicans were quick to point to O’Rourke’s two previous failed campaigns to paint him as unelectable.

“There is no amount of money that will make Beto O’Rourke a palatable candidate for a majority of Texas voters,” Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Republican Governors Association, told the Washington Examiner. “He kissed his chances at statewide office goodbye when he vowed to confiscate the firearms of law-abiding citizens, pledged to tear down physical barriers along the border, and supported regulations that would kill over a million jobs across the state and raise taxes and the cost of living on families and small businesses. Donating to him is equivalent to lighting money on fire.”

In a statement this month after O’Rourke announced his candidacy, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Matt Rinaldi said: “As far-left progressivism is rejected by voters nationwide, the Texas Democratic Party is doubling down on extremist politicians like O’Rourke.”

“Texans want lower taxes, good schools and a strong economy, not vaccine mandates, January 6 hearings, a Green New Deal, and ‘everything is racist,’” Rinaldi said. “O’Rourke’s latest campaign will end the same way the last few have, with a concession speech.”

Some Democrats pushed back on the idea that they shouldn’t compete in a red state. Mike Nellis, a Democratic digital strategist, recently tweeted that people “dunking” on O’Rourke “are completely missing the point.”

https://twitter.com/MikeNellis/status/1460258789085655050

“Maybe he can’t win. Who knows!” Nellis wrote. “But it’s important for Democrats to compete seriously everywhere. It builds the bench and strengthens the party. I’m glad he’s running — win or lose.”

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In his current campaign, O’Rourke appears poised to focus on state issues rather than national ones. In a video announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke referenced the failure of the state’s electricity grid in February and said Republicans prioritized “divisive” issues.

https://twitter.com/BetoORourke/status/1460246205066354692

“It’s a symptom of a much larger problem that we have in Texas right now,” he said. “Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas.”

© 2021 Washington Examiner

Originally appeared at Washington Examiner

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