US presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke raises $6.1m on first day of campaign

Texan Democrat surpasses Bernie Sanders’ first-day total in sign of grassroots support

Beto O’Rourke during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beto O’Rourke during his second day of campaigning for the 2020 nomination in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

 

Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6 million (€5.4 million) online in the first 24 hours after announcing his presidential campaign last week, according to his campaign, outpacing his rivals for the Democratic nomination and making an emphatic statement about his grassroots financial strength.

O’Rourke brought in $6,136,736 after declaring his long-anticipated bid with a web video and trip to the state of Iowa on Thursday morning, raising the sum entirely online and from all 50 states, the campaign said.

He narrowly beat the first-day haul of senator Bernie Sanders, who raised $5.9 million after announcing his bid last month and who would go on to raise $10 million before his first week was over.

O’Rourke’s early burst of fundraising illustrates how much he has captured the imagination of many Democratic activists around the country, who propelled him to break financial records last year in his ultimately losing bid to unseat senator Ted Cruz of Texas.

There were some doubts as to whether those same grassroots donors would also contribute to him when he was not facing Cruz – who is disliked by many on the left – but rather was one more entrant in a sprawling presidential primary.

O’Rourke’s money will, at least for now, quiet some of those sceptics. In a single day online, he raised nearly a quarter of what Barack Obama, then a senator, did in the entire first quarter of 2007.

Now the question is whether he can sustain that level of support.

Beto O’Rourke speaks with supporters in Waterloo, during a three-day road trip across Iowa. Photograph: Ben Brewer/Reuters
Beto O’Rourke speaks with supporters in Waterloo, during a three-day road trip across Iowa. Photograph: Ben Brewer/Reuters

Sanders raised his first $10 million quickly in February, much of it in small contributions. There is no way to independently confirm either candidate’s initial contributions.

O’Rourke, Sanders and the rest of the presidential hopefuls must file fundraising reports at the end of March. Those first-quarter filings will be made public on April 15th.

Few other candidates trumpeted their initial financial success, in part because they knew that Sanders would tap into his loyal network of support from his 2016 presidential race and post a large figure.

The campaign of senator Kamala Harris of California, however, did say she raised $1.5 million in the first day after announcing her candidacy in January.

O’Rourke’s aides would not say what their average contribution was or how many total donors contributed within the first 24 hours of his bid.

As in his Senate race, he did not accept any money from political action committees.

After announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke spent three days in Iowa, focusing on counties which US president Donald Trump carried in 2016, before heading to Wisconsin, as part of a multistate Midwestern tour. – New York Times