Millions of dollars pour early into Texas governor’s race

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Money is pouring fast into the Texas governor's race headlined by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who both reported massive early fundraising hauls Monday that puts the campaign on an accelerated track to become one of the nation's most expensive in 2022.

O’Rourke said he raised $7.2 million in the weeks after entering the race in mid-November — a significant amount by the standards of Texas Democrats and an early marker of his ability to remain a fundraising powerhouse after failed bids for the U.S. Senate and president.

Abbott said he raised more than double that amount over the final months of 2021 and is now sitting on $65 million, underscoring his status as the nation's most prolific fundraising governor in history and how his operation is supercharged by six- and seven-figure donations from wealthy Texas executives.

Texas has no limits on campaign contributions.

"These generous contributions from people all across Texas show just how excited Texans are for this campaign,” said Abbott, whose campaign said in a statement that roughly one in four of his most recent donors were first-time contributors.

The announcement from both campaigns included only top-line numbers and not where Abbott and O'Rourke pulled in their support, or their biggest contributors. O'Rourke's campaign said that donations came “from every part of Texas” but did not provide a figure of how much came from state residents.

A full accounting of both campaigns' contributors should be become public this week.

O'Rourke has made the failures of last winter's deadly power grid collapse in Texas a centerpiece of his underdog campaign. Executives of Texas oil and gas companies, who critics say dodged tougher regulations in the aftermath of the blackouts, are among Abbott's biggest donors.

“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,” O'Rourke said.

O’Rourke raised $80 million in his 2018 Senate campaign — at the time a record for that office — but his donors will not be confined this time by federal campaign finance law limits.

Texas' primary election is March 1, the first in the nation this year. Abbott is seeking a third term and for the first time has drawn several GOP challengers from the far right, including former Florida congressman Allen West.

Paul J. Weber, The Associated Press