In 2018, Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised $6.7 million from 141,000 contributions in his race to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. The Cruz camp hasn’t released fresh numbers yet, but a filing deadline is coming up on April 15.

O’Rourke’s fundraising haul is expected to help close an earlier fundraising gap compared with Cruz – but in the end, does this make a substantive difference?

Sean Theriault, a government professor at the University of Texas in Austin, says O’Rourke’s fundraising boost gives him a louder microphone for his message.

“Perhaps even more important is that he’s getting that from lots of different sources, and a lot of those sources are in Texas,” Theriault says. “So there’s no doubt that those are all really good signs.”

Still, Theriault says, O’Rourke’s fundraising doesn’t mean that he’s likely to win.

“To the extent that he is raising money indicates that this could become a competitive race,” he says. “But a lot of things are going to have to break his way over the course of the campaign. So with the war chest tells us – the money war chest – is that there’s enough for us to keep talking about this story. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be covering this as a potentially competitive race.”

Written by Jen Rice.

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