OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
The Democrat challenger for governor of Texas, Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, has started strong in fundraising but he faces a steep challenge from the well-financed Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
In the first 46 days of his campaign, the Democrat raised $7.2 million, but over the past six months Gov. Abbott raised $18.9 million and his war chest has topped $65 million, KERA reported.
Both campaigns announced their latest fundraising figures Tuesday morning, hours ahead of the deadline to report them to the Texas Ethics Commission. O’Rourke’s campaign went first, touting his opening haul — which covers Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 — as unmatched by any Democratic campaign in state history.
Abbott said in a statement his contributions “show just how excited Texans are for this campaign.”
The figures confirm what has long been considered the case: O’Rourke is a strong fundraiser, but he is up against a juggernaut in Abbott, at least when it comes to the money the governor has saved up. O’Rourke did not release his cash-on-hand number, but he was effectively starting from scratch when he launched his campaign in November, and his $7.2 million period means his cash on hand remains a fraction of Abbott’s reserves. Abbott had $55 million saved up for his reelection campaign at the end of June.
O’Rourke’s campaign said he got over 115,600 contributions over the 46-day period, while Abbott’s team said it received nearly 159,000 donations from July through December. Abbott’s campaign said it had an average contribution of “just over $119,” while O’Rourke’s team did not volunteer that number.
“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,” the Democrat said.
In his own press release, Abbott ignored O’Rourke and said that his “donations will help us secure the future of Texas and keep us on a path towards an even brighter future.”
The Texas governor has made waves with the Biden administration and, recently, told his National Guard that he, not President Joe Biden, is their commander-in-chief, The Daily Mail reported.
Abbott filed suit Tuesday in Texas, asking a federal judge to overturn Biden’s vaccine requirement, in a filing that repeatedly invokes Abbott’s own authority as commander in chief of the guard, which is subject to complex jurisdiction.
Under overlapping statutes, state national guards remain under the command of governors except when they are called up for federal by the president. Title 10 of the U.S. Code applies to active duty military, while Title 32 applies to the Guard.
The deadline for troops to get vaccinated was December 31st. According to Abbott’s suit, 40 percent of members of the Texas Army National Guard under his command are refusing to get the shot for religious or other reasons.
“Defendants’ intrusion into the discretion and scope of Title 32 commanders is contrary to the balance of power between federal and state officials set out by the U.S. Constitution and federal law,” the Texas governor said in the lawsuit.
“It is unlawful for Defendants to attempt to override the Governor’s authority to govern his troops, and then leave him to deal with the harms that they leave in their wake,” he said.
The lawsuit cites the constitution of the state of Texas and says that the defendants’ actions “directly infringe on Governor Abbott’s authority as commander-in-chief and on Texas’s sovereignty, and so harm Governor Abbott and Texas.”
The Democrat challenger is a favorite among the Hollywood crowd and unsuccessfully campaigned for the Democrat Party presidential nomination in 2020.