Texas Democrat O'Rourke raises record $38 million in US Senate race

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke's bid to unseat Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz got a major financial boost in the third quarter when he said he raised $38.1 million, a record for any U.S. Senate race.

SEE ALSO: Ted Cruz spotted on flight looking at photo of Senate rival Beto O'Rourke

The figure is more than triple what Cruz has raised, reflecting the intense Democratic efforts to win the two Senate seats the party needs to get back control of the upper chamber and mount renewed opposition to President Donald Trump.

Still, opinion polls generally show O'Rourke trailing in the heavily conservative state, which has not sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 30 years. A New York Times/Siena College poll released on Friday showed Cruz with an 8 percentage point lead over O'Rourke.

O'Rourke's reported fundraising was more than three times the $12 million that Cruz last week told supporters he had raised in the quarter, which ended Sept 30. The Democrat's cash haul was the largest amount raised by a U.S. Senate candidate in a single quarter, according to data from the Federal Election Commission, which goes back to 1994.

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DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 21: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) shakes hands with Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) prior to the start of a debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 21: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes a statement during a debate with Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 21: Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O'Rourke in their first debate for Texas U.S. Senate in McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Nathan Hunsinger-Pool/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 21: Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) makes a point as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) waits his turn during a debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)
Michelle Smith and Kelly Canon take a selfie with others prior to the start of a debate between Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2018. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool via REUTERS NO RESALES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
DALLAS, TX - SEPTEMBER 21: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) makes his final remarks as Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) listens during a debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU on September 21, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images)
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) makes a point during a debate with Sen. Ted Cruz (not shown) at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2018. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool via REUTERS NO RESALES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
People cheer as Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) debate at McFarlin Auditorium at SMU in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2018. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool via REUTERS NO RESALES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) makes a point as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) waits his turn during a debate for Texas U.S. Senate seat at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 21, 2018. Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/Pool via REUTERS NO RESALES. MANDATORY CREDIT.
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"O'Rourke, unlike any other Democrat in Texas in a very long time, is going to have all the money he needs to make his case," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, in a phone interview.

O'Rourke's efforts to get out the Democratic message will be offset by the combined heavy spending of Republicans Cruz and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has begun running statewide ads, Jillson said.

The previous record for quarterly fundraising for a Senate candidate was held by former U.S. Representative Rick Lazio, the unsuccessful Republican nominee who ran against Hillary Clinton for the U.S. Senate in New York in 2000. He raised $22 million in the third quarter of that year. Adjusted for inflation, that would be worth $31 million in 2018 dollars, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

O'Rourke, a first-term congressman from El Paso, thanked his more than 800,000 donors in a Twitter video, saying: "It's going to give us the resources we need to finish this campaign as strong as we possibly can."

O'Rourke made the disclosure ahead of Monday's deadline for candidates to report their fundraising to the Federal Election Commission.

SEE ALSO: Cruz, O'Rourke clash on issues — and get personal — in feisty first debate for Texas Senate seat

Cruz last week warned supporters that he expected O'Rourke to have raised more than $30 million in the quarter.

Cruz has painted O'Rourke, who favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, opposes building a wall along the border with Mexico, and supports some gun-control measures, as too radical for Texas.

O'Rourke has blasted Cruz for supporting massive deportations of illegal immigrants. He also criticized Cruz for supporting Trump's trade policies, which he said have hurt the Texas economy.

(Reporting by Tim Reid, Additional reporting by Grant Smith in New York and John Whitesides in Washington, Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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