“In the first 45 days of this year we raised $2.3 million with an average online contribution of 25 bucks,” said O’Rourke as he spoke to NPR while sitting down for lunch at a Pittsburg restaurant called Hot Links. Cruz raised about $800,000 during the same period. “I just haven’t seen this kind of excitement and energy and willingness to do what it takes in Texas in my life,” O’Rourke added.
That fundraising may help him make up for the lack of awareness Texas voters have of the Democrat, according to Texas Tribune executive editor and political analyst Ross Ramsey. “I think he’ll have enough money, whether they vote red or blue in November, Texans will know who Beto O’Rourke really is,” Ramsey told NPR.
O’Rourke is capitalizing on an extremely restive Democratic electorate. Although Texas Democrats have been largely shut out of statewide office for the past two decades, they’ve been closing the gap with Republicans. In 2016, Hillary Clinton got 600,000 more votes in Texas than Barack Obama did just four years earlier. President Trump won the state by about 9 percent.