Dems Blow Nearly $200 Million on Perennial Losers Beto O'Rourke, Stacey Abrams

November 9, 2022

Democrats spent nearly $200 million on perennial losers Beto O'Rourke and Stacey Abrams—money that failed to make their gubernatorial races against Republican incumbents competitive.

Abrams, who trailed Georgia governor Brian Kemp (R.) by 9 points with 72 percent of the vote reported Tuesday night, raised nearly $100 million between her campaign and leadership committee, state filings show. O’Rourke, meanwhile, raised $77 million and spent $72 million as of October 29—he trailed Texas governor Greg Abbott (R.) by more than 10 points with 60 percent of the vote reported. O'Rourke even broke Texas’s four-month fundraising record in July, when he raised $28 million.

Abrams's and O’Rourke’s eye-popping fundraising hauls came despite their status as high-profile losers. Abrams lost to Kemp by roughly 1.5 points in 2018, a loss she refused to concede and portrayed as "stolen" and "rigged." O’Rourke, who has said he was "just born to be in" politics, similarly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) by 2 points in 2018. O’Rourke raised $80 million in that race, which was at the time the highest amount ever raised for a U.S. Senate campaign. O’Rourke went on to run for president, a campaign he ended in November 2019 after polling in the low single digits. During his short-lived presidential bid, O’Rourke said he could not "fathom a scenario" where he would run for office again if he did not become the Democratic nominee.

Abrams and O’Rourke are far from the only Democrats who raked in money in races they lost handily. Congresswoman Val Demings’s (D.) 16-point loss to Florida senator Marco Rubio (R.) cost nearly $70 million, and only three House Democrats raised more than Georgia's Marcus Flowers, who raked in more than $15 million only to lose to Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene by a whopping 33 points.

All of that money could have been useful in states such as North Carolina, where Republican Ted Budd leads Democrat Cheri Beasley by just 4 points just before 11 p.m. Tuesday in a Senate race national liberals chose not to prioritize.

Democrats have long blown huge amounts of money on perpetual losers in longshot campaigns. Amy McGrath, for example, spent $90 million on her nearly 20-point loss to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in 2020, which came two years after she failed to unseat Republican congressman Andy Barr. The 2020 election cycle also saw Jaime Harrison raise $109 million in his race against South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham (R.), which he lost by 10 points. Harrison quickly became Democratic National Committee chair, a role that has seen him manage the party during a disastrous midterm election.

This post was originally published Nov. 8 at 11:20 p.m.