Texas is normally not considered a competitive political environment by outsiders, especially in statewide races. And for good reason, since Democrats haven't won a statewide race here since 1994. But this year's U.S. Senate race between Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Beto O'Rourke is attracting all kinds of national attention...and money. In fact, both candidates are bringing in campaign cash from beyond the Texas borders, as liberals and Democrats around the nation look to boost the upstart O'Rourke and Republicans seek to protect Cruz in the longtime red bastion.
The exact amount of outside cash flowing into the campaigns isn't known, since campaigns aren't required to report the source of donations under $200, nor money spent by outside Super PACs, which legally cannot coordinate with the campaigns. But we know there is a lot of out-of-state money flowing in, particularly to O'Rourke. "Beto O'Rourke has raised an incredible amount of money in Hollywood," says political expertChris Begala with Houston's Begala-McGrath. "He's spent more time out in Hollywood I think almost than he has campaigning in Texas."
Not that Begala is surprised by the phenomenon of out-of-state fundraising. "It seems to make sense to the average observer that you're going to raise money in your own state," says Begala. "Well, you're going to raise money wherever the money is, and it is in New York City, Florida, California, and especially Texas." That would also explain why many candidates from other states come to Texas for fundraisers despite not having any ties here.
The bottom line is candidates aren't too picky about what location their campaign money comes from, as long as it's legal. "Jesse James used to say why do I rob banks...because that's where the money is," says Begala. "Well, why do politicians go to California, Florida, New York and Texas...because that's where the money is."