Can Beto O’Rourke Be a Giant Killer?

New York Times: “It has been so bleak for Democrats in Texas that they define victory in terms of the size of their losses. A running joke in Mr. O’Rourke’s speeches is that he has almost convinced his mother, Melissa, a Republican, to vote for him.”

“But there is power in the giant-killer narrative and signs that his anti-campaign playbook campaign is working. He raised $2.4 million in the last quarter, and gets applause when he notes that was $500,000 more than Mr. Cruz took in.”

“He has a restless energy that has put him in 217 of Texas 254 counties, driving tens of thousands of miles, fueled by bad coffee and Hostess cupcakes that supporters bring him.”

O’Rourke Outraises Cruz Again

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) raised $2.4 million last quarter in his effort to oust Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Dallas Morning News reports.

“It’s the second time O’Rourke has out-raised the Republican favorite in a single fundraising quarter. Following O’Rourke’s news, the Cruz campaign announced it brought in $1.9 million in the final quarter of 2017.”

Also interesting: “O’Rourke has sworn off the help of political action committees. According to the campaign, more than 70 percent of the last quarter’s donations came from Texas, and none of the funds came from loans.”

Cruz Failed to Disclose Loans from Goldman Sachs

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “improperly accounted for loans he received from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. during his 2012 campaign, saying the funds were his own personal contributions to the Senate race,” Bloomberg reports.

“The finding, released on the FEC website, marked a rare instance of agreement among the agency’s five commissioners, who voted unanimously that the $1.1 million of loans from the banks should have been disclosed to voters.”

Cruz Builds a War Chest

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) “is sitting on a war chest of more than $5 million as he prepares for potentially stiff challenges in both a Republican primary and in the general election,” Politico reports.

“The Texas Republican raised about $1.738 million in the first three months of this year across his Senate reelection campaign, his political action committee and the Ted Cruz Victory Committee. He now has $5.2 million across those three committees, and $4.8 million of that is in his Senate reelection account.”

Ted Cruz’s Political Operation Seeks a Purpose

Politico: “The ripples are visible across the Republican Party, but nowhere has the shock of Trump’s conquest been felt more acutely than inside the Texas senator’s sprawling electoral enterprise. Having spent the past two years constructing the most sophisticated operation in politics—an outfit that raised more cash than any Republican primary candidate in history—Cruz now has little choice but to garage it. There is no space inside Trump’s GOP for a rival political apparatus of that scale, nor is there money to sustain it.”

“The 125 square-foot office Cruz’s team rented last summer at 300 New Jersey Ave., against a breathtaking backdrop of the Capitol, will soon be vacant. The group will be repurposed to assist Cruz with some issue advocacy, but no longer is it a presidential campaign-in-waiting.”

Cruz May Get An Independent Challenger

Matthew Dowd, a former George W. Bush strategist, is mulling an independent challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Texas Tribune reports.

Said Dowd: “I am giving it some thought. I haven’t made a decision. I don’t know what I will do. But I am giving it some thought, and I appreciate the interest of folks.”

“The political strategist’s career tells the story of the past three decades of Texas politics. Dowd started in Democratic politics, including as a staffer to the late U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and the late Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock. But Dowd eventually gravitated to then-Gov. Bush in the late 1990s, working on both of his presidential campaigns and for the Republican National Committee. In 2007, Dowd publicly criticized Bush over the Iraq war.”

Trump Loyalist Threatens Primary Challenge to Cruz

Ex-Trump adviser Roger Stone suggested that Donald Trump may put his extensive political capital behind boosting a primary challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018, the Huffington Post reports.

Stone harshly criticized Cruz as “an odious, greasy figure who doesn’t have any of Reagan’s warmth or likeability.”

He added: “Conservatives have long memories. So in four years or eight years after the Trump presidency, conservatives will remember that he walked out on us.”