Ted Cruz is raising money for his presidential campaign at a significantly faster rate than Mitt Romney did four years ago, eclipsing the early total raised by the former Massachusetts governor who went on to win the Republican nomination in 2012.
The conservative Texas senator, who is seeking to unite the Republicans’ tea party wing behind his White House run, raised $4.3 million during the final days of March – his first full week after declaring as a candidate for president.
Cruz proved particularly popular with small donors, raising more in his first week from contributors giving $200 or less than Romney did in the first eleven weeks of his campaign.
Despite his apparently impressive fundraising totals, Cruz’ reported fundraising skews to a local base of support, and suggests his campaign is not yet a broad, national effort.
Of the $2.2m from large donors, a full two-thirds came from individuals in Cruz’s home state of Texas. Just $62,000 came from donors in New York City, where many GOP candidates have historically had success tapping the deep pockets of Wall Street executives and hedge fund managers.
Even within Texas, the donations are relatively tightly focused, with more than half-a million dollars originating in Houston, where Cruz lived and worked before coming to Washington as a senator in 2012.
But Cruz did attract some mega-donors who are considered giant figures in conservative fundraising circles since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed unlimited donations to super PACs.
They include Robert McNair, the owner of the NFL’s Houston Texans franchise, who, along with several members of his family, made the maximum donation to Cruz’s primary campaign. In each of the last two election cycles, McNair has given more than $3m to conservative super PACs, including $2m to the super PAC that backed Mitt Romney.
Another name lit in neon in the Republican fundraising world that showed up with a maximum donation for Cruz is John W. Childs, a billionaire private equity investor. He has given millions to conservative super PACs, including $700,000 to Freedom Partners Action Fund, which is linked to the star billionaire Koch brother donors.