His campaign called it a record “for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the first 24 hours” of a campaign. They also said it was the most raised in the “first 24 hours of any campaign in 2021.”
O’Rourke is a fundraising powerhouse, though he faces an even more formidable fundraiser in Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. He had $55 million cash on hand at the end of June.
O’Rourke’s fundraising total for his first 24 hours was $2,015,885, his campaign said. The haul came from more than 20,000 donors.
The former El Paso Congressman has been on the road since launching his campaign Monday morning, making stops in Fort Stockton, San Antonio and Laredo. He is scheduled to visit the Rio Grande Valley on Wednesday.
On Monday, O’Rourke gave KXAN’s Maggie Glynn the first TV interview before making the news public and explained what he says is a desire to focus on improvements versus the “divisive politics” of Abbott.
“I think there’s no shortage of reasons for people to fire Greg Abbott as governor,” said O’Rourke. “In fact, they grow by the day, and when we could look at 72,000 lives lost in Texas by his failure to meet the challenges of this COVID pandemic, or the hundreds who were killed in a winter storm, not because of mother nature, but because of Greg Abbott and his failure to make sure that the power grid was working for all Texans.”
Just two weeks ago, a poll by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation found 43% of registered voters said they’d vote for Abbott, and 42% said they’d vote for O’Rourke — even though he’d yet to make an official announcement at that time. While he hasn’t held public office since 2019, O’Rourke, 49, has remained among Texas’ biggest political stars.
Abbott responded to O’Rourke’s announcement Monday. The governor conflated O’Rourke’s potential policies with those of Pres. Joe Biden, saying: “The last thing Texans need is President Biden’s radical liberal agenda coming to Texas under the guise of Beto O’Rourke.”
But O’Rourke says he doesn’t believe his party affiliation will keep him from getting elected in such a typically GOP-leaning state.
I wouldn’t say we’re a red state, we’re certainly not a blue state. I think it’s more accurate to describe us as a nonvoting state. We’ve got to make sure that we reach out to every single one of our fellow Texans and give them a reason to participate in a vote…. That’s how we win,” O’Rourke said Monday. “That’s how we work together and serve everyone here in the state of Texas.”
Portions of this article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at www.texastribune.org. The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans – and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.