Colin Allred’s fundraising for U.S. Senate race surpasses O’Rourke’s early 2018 pace

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, smiles as the crowd claps and cheers for him during a stop for his U.S. Senate campaign in McAllen on Feb. 17, 2024. (Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune, Michael Gonzalez For The Texas Tribune)

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Colin Allred raised over $9.5 million for his U.S. Senate campaign in this year’s first quarter, surpassing the campaign of his rival Sen. Ted Cruz.

Notably, Allred has also raised more money than Beto O’Rourke did by this point in his own history-making run against Cruz in 2018.

O’Rourke raised over $6.7 million in the first quarter of 2018 against Cruz. The El Paso Democrat’s haul that quarter was the biggest of any Democratic Senate candidate in the country.

Cruz raised over $6.9 million from his official campaign this past quarter, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Still, the conservative senator remains a formidable fundraiser, bringing in over $9.7 million across his fundraising entities. That includes money he has raised for other candidates.

O’Rourke broke new ground for Democrats in Texas with his meteoric rise. His team had to establish new campaign infrastructure where a Democrat hadn’t won state-wide office in over 20 years. Alumni of O’Rourke’s campaign and other Democrats in Texas have credited O’Rourke’s near success for providing a better launching pad for future Democratic candidates.

O’Rourke’s fundraising operation took off exponentially just before the general election in 2018. He broke records for a senate race, raising over $38.1 million in the third quarter — more than twice he had raised in the prior two quarters and more than twice Cruz had raised cumulatively since the start of 2017.

Cruz still managed to beat O’Rourke that year with a 3-point margin, despite O’Rourke spending the majority of his money. O’Rourke finished 2018 with only $477,000 of the over $80 million he had raised in the bank.

Allred has raised over $27.9 million since launching his campaign last May. He has had donations from over 285,000 individual contributors, with the average donation totalling $34.75. His first quarter haul far surpassed his $4.8 million raised in last year’s final quarter.

“Texans from every corner of the state are joining Congressman Allred’s campaign to say it is time for new leadership in the Senate,” said Paige Hutchinson, Allred’s campaign manager, in a statement. “We are so grateful for the continued outpouring of support from Texans of all stripes. This campaign is about rejecting the divisiveness of Ted Cruz and fighting for Texans’ freedoms. This continues our momentum to build a strong campaign to win in November and send Ted Cruz packing for good.”

Cruz and national Republican groups have learned their lesson from his close call against O’Rourke, committing to take Allred’s threat seriously.

Cruz had over 179,000 unique contributions this past quarter, with the average donation being $35.73. He has raised money in every county in Texas and every state. Across his fundraising operations, he has over $15.1 million in cash on hand. That includes his leadership political action committee and joint fundraising committee and the money he's raised for the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Republican Party of Texas.

Cruz also has strong allies outside of his immediate orbit. Club for Growth, the deep-pocketed right-wing group, vowed to spend at least $10 million for Cruz’ reelection effort, the group told The Washington Post last month.

"Senator Cruz is off to a very strong start this year as the momentum to get him across the finish line in November continues to increase across the entire Lone Star State. His quarter-one fundraising numbers reflect Texans' urgency for victory as Democrats threaten to strip away our common-sense way of life,” said Nick Maddux, a spokesperson for Cruz’s campaign, in a statement. “Senator Cruz will continue to pound the pavement day in and day out, meeting and talking to Texans in every corner of the state to Keep Texas, Texas, and ensure that we remain the nation's bastion of liberty."

Democrats face a difficult election map this year in the Senate. No vulnerable Republicans in truly swing states are up for election. Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, is retiring, with the deeply conservative state heavily favoring a Republican. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Arizona, will also retire, opening a competitive seat, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, will have to defend his seat in his conservative state.

With no obvious flip opportunities, national Democrats are eyeing Texas and Florida as their best bets. The National Democratic Senatorial Committee launched negative ads and ground operations in both states last year in hopes of unseating Cruz.

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