Politics & Government

Most of Cruz’ campaign money comes from Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, shown here in Corpus Christi, Texas, has raised most of his money for his 2018 re-election from Texas donors.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, shown here in Corpus Christi, Texas, has raised most of his money for his 2018 re-election from Texas donors. AP

Sen. Ted Cruz’s opponents on the left and right have accused the senator of abandoning Texas to raise his national profile — but in the year after his failed presidential bid, he’s raised money primarily from his home state.

Cruz has raised nearly $4.7 million since January. Seventy-seven percent of contributions of more than $200 came from Texas. He has $5.7 million on hand for his 2018 campaign.

Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke has made a point of running a campaign funded largely by in-state money. Last week he boasted about his Texas fundraising prowess, saying he specifically limits his national exposure to keep the race focused on Texas.

Eighty-one percent of O’Rourke’s individual contributions of over $200 came from Texas, and he has $2.8 million on hand.

O’Rourke has attacked Cruz relentlessly for neglecting his responsibilities as senator during the 2016 presidential race.

“Within months of being sworn into office in 2014 he was not in Texas, he was in Iowa and New Hampshire and other key presidential primary states… at the expense of Texas,” O’Rourke said in an interview with the Star-Telegram earlier this month.

Opponents on Cruz’s right have also used that attack.

Bruce Jacobson, a Christian television executive mulling a primary race against Cruz, recently took a swipe at the senator by criticizing anyone “using one political office to further another ambition.”

A Fort Worth-based super PAC that held a fundraiser for Jacobson lists in its mission statement that it opposes elected officials who “place advancing their own political ambitions first.”

Cruz announced plans to seek the Republican presidential nomination in March of 2015. He finished second in that primary, and suspended his campaign in May 2016.

Both Cruz and O’Rourke will have plenty of chances to tap into out-of-state money if the race tightens in the coming year.

In a televised tax reform debate with Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., recently, Cruz boasted that he received 1.8 million contributions for his presidential bid. In a nod to that national platform, Cruz also took the opportunity that night to urge viewers to contribute online to his Senate re-election.

O’Rourke has the benefit of national Democratic groups emailing donors on his behalf, such as the campaign finance reform group End Citizens United.

Those groups helped raise millions of dollars across the country to help Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff in a special House election earlier this year. Republicans attacked Ossoff relentlessly for his out-of-state money, and Ossoff lost the race to Republican Karen Handel.

Cruz and O’Rourke have both made out-of-state fundraising swings this past year.

O’Rourke raised money in California’s Silicon Valley this month, according to an invitation obtained by the tech website Recode. He received $240,000 from donors in California in 2017 and $108,000 from donors in New York.

Cruz helped raise money for other candidates and state parties outside of Texas this year, including a failed House candidate in Utah and GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida. He was scheduled to headline a Republican fundraiser in Nevada that was canceled the night before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

Cruz has received $290,000 from donors in California, $127,000 from donors in Florida and $102,000 from donors in New York this year.

The Federal Election Commission only tracks the location of itemized contributions, which are more than $200. Cruz raised $1.7 million in small dollar contributions in 2017, and O’Rourke raised $1.6 million.

Andrea Drusch: 202-383-6056, @AndreaDrusch