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Greg Abbott edges out Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising in first head-to-head reporting period

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

Greg Abbott edges out Beto O’Rourke’s fundraising in first head-to-head reporting period” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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Gov. Greg Abbott edged out Beto O’Rourke in dollars raised for their respective gubernatorial bids in the first 20 days of January, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed Monday.

At the same time, O’Rourke had more small-dollar donor success on the filings, which covered the first full reporting period where both men were candidates.

Still, Abbott is in an overwhelming position financially: He has $62.6 million in the bank, while O’Rourke — who effectively started from scratch in November — has $6 million.

Abbott reported raising $1.4 million to O’Rourke’s $1.3 million. But O’Rourke’s campaign took pride in its number of donations, which stood at 28,569 compared to 19,315 for Abbott, according to a Texas Tribune analysis. O’Rourke also had a smaller average contribution size: $46 compared to $74 for Abbott.

The latest figures continue to demonstrate that O’Rourke is a strong fundraiser, though he has a formidable hill to climb in catching up — or even getting close — to Abbott’s staggering war chest.

The Tribune analysis also showed that Abbott reported a larger share of donations from outside Texas over the 20 days. He disclosed 51% of his contributions came from out of state, while that number was 45% for O’Rourke.

Notably, Abbott unloaded $4.5 million over the 20-day period, likely driven by his campaign’s ramp-up ahead of the March 1 primary, when he faces a vocal group of challengers. O’Rourke, who has a less competitive primary, reported $612,000 in expenses.

Two of Abbott’s best-known primary foes, Don Huffines and Allen West, also disclosed their latest fundraising data Monday. Huffines, a former Dallas state senator, reported $1.1 million in contributions, close to all of it from a political action committee funded by conservative megadonors Tim Dunn and Farris Wilks. West, the former Texas GOP chair, disclosed $332,000 in contributions, over half of them in-kind. Huffines spent $2.7 million; West spent $232,000. Huffines ended the period with $2.3 million cash on hand, while West had $83,000.

In another closely watched statewide primary — the Republican contest for attorney general — incumbent Ken Paxton disclosed raising $334,000 over the 20 days. One of his challengers, Eva Guzman, reported more money raised — $651,000 — though almost all of it came in the form of in-kind contributions from the top group supporting her, Texans for Lawsuit Reform.

Paxton continued to maintain a wide cash-on-hand advantage, with $7.5 million saved up as of Jan. 20. The cash-on-hand runner-up in the primary was Land Commissioner George P. Bush, who reported a $2.6 million balance.

As he confronts a potential runoff, Paxton has trained his fire on a third challenger, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Tyler. However, Gohmert raised only $21,000 during the January period and ended it with $884,000 in the bank.

Carla Astudillo contributed reporting.

Disclosure: Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a financial supporter 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.

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