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Money big for Texas' top race

by The Associated Press | January 19, 2022 at 4:51 a.m.
FILE - Texas Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks during a campaign event in Fort Worth, Texas Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. O'Rourke said Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, that his campaign for Texas governor raised $7.2 million in the first six weeks of a race that could wind up as one of the nation's most expensive in 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)

AUSTIN, Texas -- Money is quickly pouring into the Texas governor's race headlined by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who both reported huge early fundraising hauls Monday that put the campaign on track to become one of the nation's most expensive in 2022.

O'Rourke said he raised $7.2 million in the weeks after entering the race in mid-November -- a significant amount by the standards of Texas Democrats and an early marker of his ability to remain a fundraising powerhouse after failed bids for the U.S. Senate and president.

Abbott said he raised more than double that amount over the final months of 2021 and is now sitting on $65 million, underscoring his status as the nation's most prolific fundraising governor in history and how his operation is supercharged by six- and seven-figure donations from wealthy Texas executives.

The state has no limits on campaign contributions.

"These generous contributions from people all across Texas show just how excited Texans are for this campaign," said Abbott, whose campaign said in a statement that roughly one in four of his most recent donors were first-time contributors.

The announcements from both campaigns included only top-line numbers and not where Abbott and O'Rourke pulled in their support, or their biggest contributors. A full accounting of the contributors should be become public later this week.

O'Rourke has made the failures of last winter's deadly power grid collapse in Texas a centerpiece of his underdog campaign. Executives of Texas oil and gas companies, who critics say dodged tougher regulations in the aftermath of the blackouts, are among Abbott's biggest donors.

"While Abbott is taking million-dollar checks from the CEOs who profited off of the grid collapse, we're receiving support from people all over Texas who want to ensure that our state finally leads in great jobs, world class schools and the ability to see a doctor," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke raised $80 million in his 2018 Senate campaign -- at the time a record for that office -- but this time his donors will not be confined by federal campaign-finance limits.

Texas' primary election is March 1, the first in the nation this year. Abbott is seeking a third term and for the first time has drawn several GOP challengers from the far right, including former Florida Congressman Allen West.

  photo  FILE- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks on a variety of matters at the Midland Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly's Reagan Lunch at the Bush Convention Center, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Midland, Texas. Democrat Beto O'Rourke said Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, that his campaign for Texas governor raised $7.2 million in the first six weeks of a race that could wind up as one of the nation's most expensive in 2022. At the same time, Abbott for years has shown an ability to raise millions of dollars in a matter of days from executives of some of Texas’ largest corporations and energy firms. (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Democrat Beto O'Rourke listens to a volunteer before a Texas Organizing Project neighborhood walk in West Dallas on June 9, 2021. O'Rourke said Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, that his campaign for Texas governor raised $7.2 million in the first six weeks of a race that could wind up as one of the nation's most expensive in 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
 
 
  photo  FILE - Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks before signing Senate Bill 1, also known as the election integrity bill, into law in Tyler, Texas, Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Democrat Beto O'Rourke said Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, that his campaign for Texas governor raised $7.2 million in the first six weeks of a race that could wind up as one of the nation's most expensive in 2022. At the same time, Abbott for years has shown an ability to raise millions of dollars in a matter of days from executives of some of Texas’ largest corporations and energy firms. (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
 
 

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