After The Debates, Beto O’Rourke’s Fundraising Slumped, While Julián Castro’s Jumped

O’Rourke raised $3.8 million in the last quarter – less than he raised in the first 24 hours after he announced his presidential bid.

By Terri Langford & Jill AmentJuly 17, 2019 10:47 am, ,

In a recent email, Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign alerted supporters that his new quarterly campaign finance numbers are lower than supporters may have hoped. So what should O’Rourke do now? And how does his campaign compare to those of other Democratic candidates at this point in the race?

Lauren McGaughy covers politics for The Dallas Morning News, and says O’Rourke is trying to reassure supporters that his campaign can survive. But the outlook isn’t good, especially when comparing last quarter’s numbers to those of his Senate race last fall.

“He raised $80 million in his challenge to Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat,” McGaughy says. “So raising $3.8 from April to June, which is less than he even raised in the first 24 hours after he announced his bid for president – there’s really no way to slice it; those weren’t good numbers for him.”

Another Texan candidate, Julián Castro, is making strides. He raised about a million dollars less than O’Rourke in the last quarter, but it was a leap forward for a candidate whom McGaughy says was relatively unknown outside of Texas before the recent Democratic debates.

“His really strong performance … really pushed him up,” she says.

Indeed, she says 40% of the $2.8 million Castro raised in the last quarter came in just after the debate.

“If he can keep that momentum up, then he might surpass Beto,” McGaughy says.

But O’Rourke and Castro still rank low among all of the 23 Democratic candidates; McGaughy says neither is in the top five. And top-tier candidates have raised millions more than both of them: South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, for example, raised almost $25 million in the last quarter.

Some in Texas are now wondering if O’Rourke might suspend his presidential campaign and, instead, run for Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s seat. But McGaughy says Cornyn already has challengers, including MJ Hegar and possibly state Sen. Royce West.

“I’m sure Beto is looking at that and thinking, ‘OK, is that gonna become a crowded field as well, and where should I end up?’” McGaughy says

Cornyn is likely to be a strong incumbent candidate, McGaughy says, but she says this may be the first time he could be at risk of losing.

“I think that’s why we’re seeing folks that haven’t left their position, like the Royce Wests of the world … actually considering a run for that position because maybe they think it’s actually possible this year,” McGaughy says.


Written by Caroline Covington.