In the November race for Texas governor, two prolific fundraisers are vying to be the chief executive of the state.
Republican incumbent Greg Abbott, who is seeking his third term in office, has reported huge fundraising hauls in the past, amassing staggering amounts of cash in his campaign coffers. However, Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke reported raising $27.6 million from late February through June, which is the most a candidate for state office in Texas has ever raised in a single reporting period. Because Texas has no campaign finance contribution limits, it’s possible both candidates will accumulate and spend record-breaking amounts of campaign cash by November.
The Texas Tribune has been tracking contributions, expenditures and cash on hand for both candidates since O’Rourke officially entered the race in November last year. The numbers will be updated again when new campaign finance reports come out in October of this year. The data is made public by the Texas Ethics Commission. Here's how they compare.
How much have the candidates raised so far?
Bolstered by his record-breaking figures over the past few months, O’Rourke has raised almost $4 million more than Abbott as of June 30, 2022. However, Abbott still maintains a financial advantage with twice as much cash on hand as O’Rourke. Back in June 2021, Abbott had a campaign balance of over $55 million. In addition, Abbott has spent over three times more money than his opponent, including a recent ad buy worth nearly $20 million.
All told, the candidates together have raised a combined $78 million, spent $68 million and have a combined total of roughly $70 million in their campaign coffers.
How has the candidates’ fundraising compared over time?
On his first day in the gubernatorial race in November 2021, O’Rourke received huge donations worth a total of $1.7 million from his Powered by People PAC, which has been raising money since 2019 to boost Texas Democrats. Since then, O’Rourke received two major fundraising bumps: one right after the primary and the other one after he confronted Abbott at a press conference following the school shooting in Uvalde in late May.
However, Abbott has been a prolific fundraiser for years, which has allowed him to maintain the upper hand financially.
How many donations came from within Texas?
As of June 30, 2022, Abbott received a larger percentage of his money from Texas donors compared to O’Rourke. This means that overall, Abbott’s Texas donors gave more than O’Rourke’s Texas donors.
However, both candidates have received a large number of donations from outside Texas. Each received 54% of their donations from donors outside of Texas. O’Rourke received about 391,000 donations from outside the state, while Abbott received roughly 109,000.
Usually, state candidates in Texas get the majority of their donations from Texans. However, both candidates have a national profile, with Abbott regularly appearing on Fox News and O’Rourke running for president in 2020.
How many were small-dollar donations?
As of June 30, 2022, the overwhelming percentage of donations both candidates have received are those worth $200 or less. However, the total sums of those donations are about $19.5 million and $5.9 million for O’Rourke and Abbott, respectively. That makes up almost half of O’Rourke’s total amount raised.
Which individuals donated the most?
Because Texas doesn’t have limits on contribution amounts, rich and powerful people can cut massive checks to campaigns.
For Abbott, his biggest donors have always come from the energy industry and this time is no exception, with energy tycoons making up his top 10 donors. Oil and gas executives S. Javaid Anwar, Jeff Hildebrand and Gary Martin, in particular, have been regular contributors to Abbott for years. In addition, Abbott has received donations from deep-pocketed donors in the real estate and construction industries.
O’Rourke received two $1 million checks from Austin couple Simone Coxe, who has worked in communications, and Tench Coxe, a former venture capitalist. In addition, he received $1 million from billionaire George Soros, who is known for backing liberal candidates. His top donors come from a range of industries including real estate, law and consulting.
Which organizations donated the most?
Organizations like political action committees or industry associations can also give directly to candidate campaigns.
The organizations that donated the most money to Abbott this reporting period have previously given to the governor. Top donor Q PAC, a Fort Worth private investment firm, gave $275,000, while Santa Rosa Ranches gave $265,000. In addition, both Gulf States Toyota Inc. State PAC and HillCo PAC, which are tied to billionaire Dan Friedkin and an Austin lobbyist firm, respectively, have also donated to Abbott in the past.
O’Rourke’s Powered by People PAC gave almost $2 million to his own campaign. The other organizations on the list are law firms and other political action committees.
Where in Texas did donations come from?
Breaking down the contributions by ZIP code in Texas, O’Rourke received more money from donors in major cities, which are Democratic strongholds, than Abbott, who raised more in rural areas.
Both candidates have received more campaign cash in ZIP codes where wealthier people live because that’s who tends to give money to politicians on both sides of the aisle. In addition, the top ZIP codes for both candidates are often those where political action committees are based.
Disclosure: Associated General Contractors of Texas - Highway Branch, Javaid Anwar, Tench and Simone Otus Coxe, Claire Dewar, Marguerite Hoffman, Gary Martin, Gulf States Toyota, HillCo Partners, LLC and Ross Perot, Jr., have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/07/19/abbott-beto-fundraising-governor-2022/.
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