Beto O’Rourke Raising Money Faster Than 2020 Rivals

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke delivers remarks in El Paso at the first of three Texas rallies on March 30, 2019. (CNS Photo/Erik De La Garza)

(CN) – Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke said he raised $9.4 million in the first 18 days after launching his presidential campaign, almost entirely online, elevating the bar for highest per-day fundraising totals among his 2020 rivals, including Senator Bernie Sanders. 

Fueled mostly by small donations under $200, O’Rourke took in an average of $520,000 per day from 218,000 donors nationwide, including $6.1 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his bid for the White House, his campaign said Tuesday.

O’Rourke’s average donation was $43.

The fundraising haul reported by O’Rourke, who jumped into the crowded nomination contest March 14 after nearly unseating Senator Ted Cruz in last year’s midterms, falls short from Sanders’ $18 million and the $12 million that Senator Kamala Harris’ campaign said she raised.

But O’Rourke’s campaign stressed that the former El Paso congressman’s donations reflect just 18 days on the trail before the March 31 first-quarter deadline. Sanders’ Feb. 19 launch gave him 40 days to fundraise and Harris had 70 days after her announcement over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

That means Sanders raised about $450,000 daily, while Harris took in donations at a rate of about $171,400 per day, far less than the roughly half a million dollars O’Rourke says he raised per day.

“In just 18 days, people in every state and from every walk of life have organized in homes, contributed a few bucks online and united together,” O’Rourke said in a statement Tuesday. “Not only is this a sign of our grassroots strength during the first two weeks of our campaign but it is a sign of what’s possible when you put your full trust in the people of this country.”

O’Rourke, who gained an enthusiastic following of supporters in his campaign against Cruz and pulled in a record-breaking $80 million in donations, officially launched his 2020 campaign over the weekend with a three-city blitz of his home state of Texas.

In his remarks to crowds that reached 6,000 in his hometown of El Paso, O’Rourke vowed to work on issues including climate change, immigration reform, income equality and voting rights.

Candidates have until April 15 to turn in official campaign finance reports, but they often release totals beforehand as a show of financial force. Part of O’Rourke’s fundraising strategy included an aggressive last-minute push over the weekend to raise $1 million.

According to O’Rourke’s campaign, teachers donated the most by occupation and a majority of donors over the 18 days of fundraising did not contribute to O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate run. O’Rourke said the money came “without a dime from PACs, corporations or special interests.”

O’Rourke is the second Texas Democrat to announce a run for president after former Obama cabinet official and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro became the first 2020 candidate to jump into what has become a crowded field of at least 15 Democrats eager to take on President Donald Trump.

Castro, who has struggled to gain momentum in early polls, has yet to release his own fundraising numbers. His campaign is urging supporters to donate at least $1 apiece for Castro to overcome a new Democratic National Committee rule that requires candidates to have at least 65,000 individual donors to qualify for the first presidential debate in June.

He told Rachel Maddow of MSNBC on Tuesday that while his fundraising has accelerated over the past couple of weeks, “I’m not quiet yet at 65,000 contributions.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, meanwhile said he has raised over $7 million during his first months on the campaign trail.

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