Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke broke fundraising records in their race for Texas governor. Here’s how much.

Beto ORourke and Gov. Greg Abbott (The Texas Tribune, The Texas Tribune)

In the November race for Texas governor, two prolific fundraisers are vying to be the chief executive of the state. Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who is seeking his third term in office, has reported huge fundraising hauls in the past, amassing staggering amounts of cash in his campaign coffers. However, Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke reported raising $27.6 million from late February through June, which is the most a candidate for state office in Texas has ever raised in a single reporting period. Because Texas has no campaign finance contribution limits, it’s possible both candidates will accumulate and spend record-breaking amounts of campaign cash by Election Day.

The Texas Tribune has been tracking contributions, expenditures and cash on hand for both candidates since O’Rourke officially entered the race in November last year. These are the latest numbers ahead of Election Day. There will be one last update in January with final fundraising numbers for the 2022 midterms. The data is made public by the Texas Ethics Commission. Here’s how they compare.

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How much have the candidates raised so far?

Bolstered by his record-breaking figures over the past few months, O’Rourke has raised almost $6 million more than Abbott as of Oct. 29, 2022. And O’Rourke has over $500,000 more cash on hand than Abbott. But that wasn’t always the case: In June 2021, Abbott had a campaign balance of over $55 million, and Abbott has spent almost twice as much money as his opponent, including a June ad buy worth nearly $20 million.

All told, the candidates together have raised a combined $147 million, have spent almost $196 million and have a combined total of almost $8 million in their campaign coffers.

How has the candidates’ fundraising compared over time?

On his first day in the gubernatorial race in November 2021, O’Rourke received donations worth a total of $1.7 million from his Powered by People PAC, which has been raising money since 2019 to boost Texas Democrats. Since then, O’Rourke received four major fundraising bumps: one right after the primary election; one after he confronted Abbott at a press conference following the school shooting in Uvalde in late May; one after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in late June; and one at the end of September, a couple of weeks ahead of the voter registration deadline.

However, Abbott has been a prolific fundraiser for years, which gave him the upper hand earlier in the race.

How many donations came from within Texas?

Usually, state candidates in Texas get the majority of their donations from Texans. However, both candidates have national profiles, with Abbott regularly appearing on Fox News and O’Rourke running for president in 2020. That has resulted in both candidates receiving a large number of donations from outside Texas. Just over 40% of the sum of O’Rourke’s donations came from out-of-state donors, compared with 17% of Abbott’s. O’Rourke received about 391,496 individual donations from outside the state, while Abbott received roughly 109,493.

As of Oct. 29, 2022, Abbott received a greater percentage of his money from Texas donors compared with O’Rourke. This means that overall, Abbott’s Texas donors gave more than O’Rourke’s Texas donors.

How many were small-dollar donations?

As of Oct. 29, 2022, the overwhelming percentage of donations both candidates received are worth $200 or less. Those donations have added up, bringing in about $9.7 million for Abbott and $37.8 million for O’Rourke. Small donors make up almost half of the total amount O’Rourke raised.

Which individuals donated the most?

Because Texas doesn’t have limits on contribution amounts, rich and powerful people can cut massive checks to campaigns.

Abbott’s biggest individual donors have always come from the energy industry, and this time is no exception, with energy tycoons making up 40% of his top 10 donors. Oil and gas executives S. Javaid Anwar and Gary Martin, in particular, have been regular contributors to Abbott for years. In addition, Abbott has received donations from deep-pocketed donors in the real estate industry like Edward Roski Jr., president of Majestic Realty in California, who gave $1.5 million, as well as three donations of $1 million each from supporters in finance and casinos.

O’Rourke received $2.2 million from Austin couple Simone Coxe, who has worked in communications, and Tench Coxe, a former venture capitalist. He also received $1.5 million from billionaire George Soros, who is known for backing liberal candidates. O’Rourke’s top donors come from industries including finance, media and philanthropy. In addition, cryptocurrency CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, who gave O’Rourke $1 million, is under investigation for breaking the state’s securities law.

Which organizations donated the most?

Organizations like political action committees or industry associations can also give directly to candidate campaigns.

The organizations that donated the most money to Abbott this reporting period have previously given to the governor. The Stockyards Station Hotel, recently acquired by Roski’s Majestic Realty, donated over $382,000 in event expenses while HillCo PAC, an Austin lobbyist firm, donated a total of $336,000. In addition, both Gulf States Toyota Inc. State PAC and Q-PAC, which are tied to billionaire Dan Friedkin and Geoffrey Raynor, respectively, have also donated to Abbott in the past.

O’Rourke’s Powered by People PAC gave $1.7 million to his own campaign. The other organizations on the list include law firms, teachers’ groups and liberal political action committees.

Where in Texas did donations come from?

Breaking down the contributions by ZIP code in Texas, O’Rourke received more money from donors in major cities, which are Democratic strongholds. Abbott raised more in smaller cities and rural areas. Both candidates have received more campaign cash from ZIP codes where wealthier people live because that’s who tends to give money to politicians on both sides of the aisle. In addition, the top ZIP codes for both candidates are often those where political action committees are based.

Caroline Covington contributed to this story.

Disclosure: Javaid Anwar, Tench and Simone Otus Coxe, Marguerite Hoffman, Gary Martin, Gulf States Toyota, HillCo Partners LLC and Ross Perot Jr./Hillwood Development Co. LLC have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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