A Texas Democratic donor is raising money for a super PAC to help Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke — against the wishes of the candidate, who has asked super PACs to stay out of the race.
Dallas lawyer Marc Stanley told the Star-Telegram Tuesday that his group is gearing up to try to unseat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, following a Quinnipiac University poll this month that showed the race in a statistical dead heat.
Stanley said the poll, combined with a private survey his group commissioned in February, “shows the time is right” to unseat Cruz.
O’Rourke, a champion of campaign finance reform, has asked PACs to stay out of his race against Cruz. He’s raised $13.2 million for that contest, to Cruz’s roughly $12.6 million.
“I’m not listening to what Beto O’Rourke says, I’m doing what I think is right for Texas,” said Stanley, who chaired former Texas Gov. Ann Richards’s campaign in 1990 in Dallas County.
FTC PAC — short for Fire Ted Cruz — was registered with the Federal Election Commission in July, but formally launched its website last week.
The group can raise and spend unlimited money to influence the Texas Senate race. Stanley said he will begin pitching donors in the coming weeks, now that polling indicates the race is competitive.
As of March 31, the group had raised about $110,000, with $100,000 from Vaughn Vennerberg, president of Fort Worth-based XTO Energy. The PAC had about $53,000 in the bank.
Stanley and Vennerberg are both major donors to Democratic candidates nationwide. Stanley has given about $47,500 to Democratic candidates in the 2018 election cycle. Vennerberg has given about $320,000.
Cruz has his own supporting super PAC, Texans Are, which reported about $2 million in the bank as of March 31.
O’Rourke says he wants to fund his campaign with mostly Texas money, and said 70 percent of the money he’s raised came from inside the state.
Stanley is interested in tapping into a national donor base to unseat Cruz.
“Ted Cruz is disliked not only by colleagues by millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Texans,” said Stanley. “We want to give [them] an opportunity to participate.”
The PAC’s poll showed Cruz at 45 percent and O’Rourke at 38 percent in February. Stanley declined to share the firm that conducted it, the sample size, the dates conducted or the methodology. FTC PAC paid $40,000 to NP Consulting Inc. in D.C. on March 15.
Cruz’s campaign found the Republican leading O’Rourke 52-34 percent in its own polling in December.