Beto O'Rourke Raises $2M in a Day, Greg Abbott Has $55M War Chest

The Texas governor race is shaping up to be a very expensive affair after former Democrat Beto O'Rourke announced a bid to oust Republican Greg Abbott.

O'Rourke, a former congressman who ran unsuccessfully against now-Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018, raised $2 million within 24 hours of announcing his campaign for governor on Monday, according to his campaign team.

The former Representative for Texas' 16th district is the most prominent Democrat to enter the race so far and if nominated, will most likely face Abbott—who seeks a third term.

O'Rourke's campaign told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday that the fundraising haul was a record "for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate for the first 24 hours," and the most raised in the "first 24 hours of any campaign in 2021."

The total raised within the first day of his campaign was $2,015,885 from around 33,000 donors, O'Rourke's campaign said.

He might need every penny.

Abbott's reelection campaign said it had $55 million cash-on-hand at the end of June.

The Republican's campaign told The Tribune in July that Abbott had raised more than $18.7 million in the last 10 days of June and that the cash-on-hand was more "than any other statewide candidate in Texas history."

In a statement issued at the time, the governor said: "Our record-breaking fundraising period is a testament to the success of the 87th Legislative Session and paints a clear picture of what matters most to Texans: freedom, opportunity, and economic prosperity."

While Abbott faces primary challengers, it is likely he will win the Republican nomination for a third time. He was first elected governor in 2014 and then won reelection in 2018.

O'Rourke will also have to win the Democratic nomination against any potential challengers, and both campaigns will continue fundraising ahead of the election on November 8, 2022.

The Texas gubernatorial race will be closely watched. No Democrat has been elected governor in the state since Ann Richards in 1990, who went on to be defeated by future President George W. Bush in 1994.

Though long regarded as a deep red state, there has for years been speculation that Texas is trending toward a swing state and could vote for a Democratic presidential candidate, though this has not happened since former President Jimmy Carter carried the state in 1976.

A Democratic victory would be a major win for the party following disappointments this year, particularly against an incumbent Republican, and the race is therefore likely to see a significant amount of campaign spending on both sides.

Speaking on Monday, O'Rourke called Abbott's policies "divisive" and said: "It is time for change."

Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Beto O'Rourke.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (left) prepares to speak at the Houston Region Business Coalition's monthly meeting on October 27, 2021 in Houston. His Democratic gubernatorial rival Beto O'Rourke waits to be brought on stage at a campaign event on November 16, 2021 in San Antonio. Abbott and O'Rourke's campaign teams are expected to raise colossal campaign funds. Brandon Bell / Jordan Vonderhaa/Getty Images