U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and El Paso Rep. Beto O’Rourke are stepping up their statewide campaigns in the race for Senate.
Incumbent Cruz launched his re-election bid with campaign stops in 12 cities across Texas. He had a warning for supporters after O’Rourke announced that he raised $6.7 million through grassroots campaigning.
“There are a lot of folks on the far left who are energized, angry and hate the president and who are going to show up in big numbers,” Cruz told supporters in San Antonio.
While experts are impressed by the amount of money O’Rourke raised in a single quarter, they question if that will change Texas’s political landscape. Emily Ramshaw, editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, said donations don’t always translate into votes.
“While money isn’t everything, and obviously this is a deep red state, this at least gives Beto O’Rourke the opportunity to make sure his name ID is very high across the state,” Ramshaw said. “Now whether that will make a difference at the end of the day is still a tough question.”
Cruz has not released his fundraising numbers yet, but he has an advantage over O’Rourke when it comes to name recognition. A poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and The Texas Tribune shows that a lot of people still don’t have an opinion on O’Rourke even though he has been campaigning all over the state.
“He’s got to convince people who do not know him that who he is and why they should vote for him,” said Brian Smith, an associate dean and political science professor at St. Edwards University.
Smith thinks O’Rourke should use the money he raised to get his name out there and create a winning campaign.
“He is going to need people who are familiar with Texas politics and winning Texas elections,” Smith said.