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Beto O’Rourke dominates 2020 Democrats in Texas fundraising

Beto O’Rourke raised more than $2 million from his home state of Texas in the opening weeks of his presidential campaign, easily outpacing his 2020 Democratic rivals.

Another Texan, Julian Castro, placed a distant second in the state’s money race, collecting more than $400,000, according to an analysis of newly filed campaign finance reports.

Texas donors accounted for more than half of the high-dollar donations brought in by O’Rourke, a former El Paso congressman, and Castro, a former San Antonio mayor, during the first fundraising quarter of the election cycle.

O’Rourke, who launched his White House campaign in mid-March, is considered by Democrats to be a top-tier candidate, while Castro has struggled to break through since entering the race in January.

Amber Mostyn, a major Democratic donor from Houston, said she isn’t throwing her support behind just one candidate at this point. She said she has only donated to Castro so far to help him meet the fundraising threshold to qualify for the first Democratic debate in June.

“I want to see Castro on the debate stage,” Mostyn said. “I’m pretty happy with the field. Everyone is bringing something unique to the race.”

After the home-state favorites, California Sen. Kamala Harris raised the most from Texas donors at $190,000. She was followed by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at $130,000, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at $108,000 and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at $102,000. No other candidate crossed the $100,000 threshold in the state.

The Texas totals are likely higher for all the candidates, as campaigns are not required to publicly disclose donors who give less than $200. All told, 84 percent of Sanders’ money came from those small donors, compared to 59 percent for O’Rourke and 37 percent for Harris.

Nationwide, Sanders raised a total of $18.1 million in the first fundraising quarter of the election cycle, the most of any Democratic candidate.

Texas has always been a popular fundraising destination for politicians. But the Democratic contenders also have eyes on the 228 pledged delegates Texas will offer on Super Tuesday on March 3, the second-most of any state. Harris and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have recently held public campaign events in the state. And Sanders, who lost the 2016 Texas Democratic primary by more than 30 points, is talking to senior staffers in the state about roles on his campaign.

Many major Democratic donors are staying on the sidelines in the early stages of the 2020 race, waiting to see how the crowded field shakes out in the coming months before choosing a candidate. Some are backing multiple contenders at once while others are waiting for former Vice President Joe Biden to launch his campaign.

Ben Wieder is a data reporter in McClatchy’s Washington bureau. He worked previously at the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline. His work has been honored by the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, National Press Foundation, Online News Association and Association of Health Care Journalists.
Adam Wollner is a political editor for McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau, where he covers the 2020 presidential campaign. Previously, he covered elections and Capitol Hill for National Journal. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.