Two Democrats hoping to unseat a pair of top Republicans in 2018 have raked in an impressive amount of money, a sign that Democratic fundraising is still going strong after the record-breaking House special election race in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.
Though facing long odds, Beto O'Rourke, who is running to defeat Texas Sen. Ted Cruz; and Randy Bryce, who is campaigning to take out House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, both are drawing in strong donation numbers in the early stages of their campaigns.
O'Rourke, a U.S. congressman who represents the west Texas district that includes El Paso, has raised more than $1 million online since he announced his challenge against Cruz at the end of March, according to Politico's Scott Bland. He had more than $500,000 in his war chest following first-quarter fundraising, the El Paso Times reported in mid-April.
Meanwhile Bryce, a union ironworker who supported progressive darling Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 campaign, claims to have strong grassroots support, resulting in a record $430,000 from 16,000 donors in the first 12 days of his candidacy.
Bland added that O'Rourke is just one of seven Democrats who have raised more than $500,000 online since in April and May; the most successful of which is New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at around $1.6 million. Meanwhile nationwide Democratic fundraising efforts have had varying success in recent months.
These fundraising numbers are being revealed not long after Democrat Jon Ossoff lost to Republican Karen Handel in the special election to fill the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
The tab for that race, which was widely seen as a gauge on the country's approval of President Trump, is expected to rise past the $50 milllion mark. As NPR notes, that is way above the previous record of $29 million for a House race. Ossoff himself raised at least $24 million, much of which came from outside funding sources.
Though "George Sixth" was always a bit of a long shot for the Democrats — no Democrat has won that district since Newt Gingrich was first elected — the money came flowing in, and there is already evidence of Democrats flexing fundraising muscle elsewhere beyond the contests against Cruz and Ryan.
As strong as those numbers may be, more money hasn't resulted in red-leaning places flipping to blue. Handel, for example, only raised $4.5 million and Ossoff spent six times more than Handel. Strong fundraising also failed to boost the losing Democrat in Montana's recent special election.
Cruz, a former primary opponent of Trump's in the 2016 race, and Ryan, both of whom ended up endorsing Trump's run, hail from a state and a district, respectively, that overwhelming went Trump's way during the 2016 election.
Still, only 46 percent of voters in Ryan's district said they vote to re-elect, according to the results of a poll released by left-leaning Public Policy Polling in May. And a poll in April showed Cruz losing by 4 percentage points to Rep. Joaquin Castro and tying O'Rourke.