Both candidates for Texas governor posted massive fundraising hauls in the latest filing period from late February through the end of June. Democrat Beto O’Rourke bested Republican Greg Abbott in money raised in the most recent filing, though the incumbent has a significant cash-on-hand advantage.
O’Rourke brought in $27.6 million, 59 percent from out-of-state — including $1 million from billionaire and frequent progressive donor George Soros. Meanwhile, Abbott raised $24.9 million, 86 percent from within Texas. The incumbent had $45.7 million left compared to O’Rourke’s $23.9 million.
But diving into the numbers further shows different trends in which events preceded these spikes in funding. The three biggest events during this period were their respective primary victories, the tragic Uvalde shooting that left 19 schoolchildren and two teachers dead, and the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.
Abbott did not receive much of a boost from his runaway primary night victory on March 1, but posted three separate days in which he raised over $500,000 from late March to early April. He again posted a large fundraising day on May 18, bringing in nearly $900,000.
On May 24, the day of the Uvalde shooting, Abbott made a stop at a pre-scheduled fundraiser in East Texas, about which he said, “On the way back to Austin, I stopped and let people know that I could not stay, that I needed to go and I wanted them to know what happened and get back to Austin so I could continue to my collaboration with Texas law enforcement.”
The Abbott campaign raised $378,000 that day, after which it announced the postponement of all campaign activities. According to the finance reports, fundraising waned substantially or disappeared entirely until May 31, when the governor posted a $670,000-collection day.
Two days before the U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, Abbott raised $1.2 million. The day the opinion came out, the governor pulled in $900,000 followed by multiple days of large hauls capped by the $1.3 million on the final day of the period.
O’Rourke saw a massive influx of in-state donations a few days after his primary win. The bulk of his $2.1 million haul came from two $1 million donations from West Lake Hills couple Tench and Simone Coxe.
In the following two and a half months, O’Rourke’s fundraising remained consistently low. But two days after the Uvalde shooting, his intake skyrocketed; he posted $1.5 million on May 26, $1.1 million on May 27, and $1.3 million on May 30.
The day after the shooting, O’Rourke’s campaign sent out two emails: one with a message of mourning, and another with a link to the Uvalde relief fund GoFundMe. On May 28, the O’Rourke campaign said in a fundraising email invoking the shooting, “Greg Abbott has spent the last seven years hurting the people of Texas.”
Another followed the next day, stating, “This is on you, Governor Abbott.”
Similar appeals were sent out on June 1, 2, 3, 6, and 11.
Soros’ $1 million donation came the day before Roe’s demise was issued. The day of and weekend after, O’Rourke’s fundraising actually waned substantially until it posted back-to-back large hauls — $1.9 million on June 27 and $1 million on June 28. The O’Rourke campaign sent at least 8 fundraising emails out about the court ruling, and it seemed to pay dividends in the finance department.
On the final day of the reporting period, O’Rourke raised just shy of $2 million, capping off his record fundraising haul.
Breaking the fundraising down by in-state versus out-of-state donations shows even more trends.
A small portion of his total haul, Abbott’s out-of-state fundraising only brought in more than $220,000 in a day once — $530,000 on April 7.
O’Rourke’s out-of-state-heavy report differs.
The Democrat’s out-of-state haul was back-ended and correlates heavily with both the Uvalde shooting and the Dobbs release. Of O’Rourke’s money raised in the days following the shooting, three-quarters came from out-of-state.
His in-state contributions outpaced the out-of-state, amounting to 88 percent of that two-day haul referenced above.
Abbott’s in-state money raised in the days following the Dobbs release accounted for 95 percent of the total during those days.
A lot can happen in the remaining few months the high-profile race, but the trends show each played a role in what the top-of-the-ticket candidates raised. While the top numbers show O’Rourke relied more on out-of-state money, his contributions beyond Texas also correlate heavily with the Uvalde tragedy and Roe’s demise — events which caused the Democrat to intensify his calls for gun control, such as removing AR-15s and AK-47s from ownership in the community, and repealing every abortion restriction in the state.
The data indicate that after the end of Roe, Abbott received his own fundraising bump, the lions’ share of which came from within the state he governs. On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its judgment on the case which sets Texas’ abortion trigger ban that Abbott signed into law last year, on a 30-day course to effectivity.
Both candidates are prolific fundraisers and their respective intakes on the final day of the period shows as much.
Now begins the sprint to the finish, which includes two more finance reports before the clash on November 8.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.