Beto O’Rourke raises $2m in first day as governor contender

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Possible Democratic candidate clinches million dollars in 24 hours after he officially kicked off his bid for the state’s highest office

Beto O’Rourke, the Texas congressman and serious White House contender, announced he has raised more than $2m in his first day of a possible bid for the state’s highest office.

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The Democrat’s announcement, made via a video, was the latest sign he was preparing to challenge the incumbent, Republican governor Greg Abbott.

The former congressman’s campaign said it raised $2.1m in the 24 hours following the announcement on Monday that he was “testing the waters” of a bid for governor. O’Rourke’s campaign had previously raised about $1m in about two weeks since July 1.

O’Rourke did not run for re-election to the House in November and instead shifted his focus to a campaign to win back his old seat. Now, he appears poised to run against Abbott, who has led Texas since 2011. The governor is often mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2020.

O’Rourke’s political career took off in 2010 with his upset victory in an El Paso-area congressional race over a longtime congressman. This week, he was invited by Oprah Winfrey to her mega-event in New York. In that debut post-congressional campaign appearance, O’Rourke raised more than $3m during a four-hour event.

Beto O’Rourke will immediately throw his hat into the ring for Texas governor – Texas Tribune (@thetexastribune) August 8, 2018

But the Texan has said in the past that he is not interested in running for the Democratic presidential nomination. O’Rourke’s star power, his Texas birthplace and limited campaign operations could make him a more viable statewide candidate in a primary fight against several better-known Democrats, including Julian Castro, Texas’ former housing secretary, and Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee.

O’Rourke is known among Democrats for his boisterous and impassioned speeches that he delivers in barnstorming style. But he faces an uphill battle against Abbott, who enjoys broad name recognition, is a deeply wealthy man and a skillful campaigner.

O’Rourke also is concerned about Abbott’s $150m war chest.

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