Democrats poured in close to $200 million this election cycle to aid perennial loser candidates Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Beto O'Rourke in Texas in their gubernatorial races against Republican incumbents, records show.
Abrams, who conceded Tuesday to Gov. Brian Kemp and as of this writing trails by 7.5 percentage points with 98% reporting, raked in about $100 million through her campaign and leadership committee, according to state filings. O'Rourke, who similarly conceded to Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday and trails the Republican by 11 percentage points with 97% reporting, raised at least $77 million.
In comparison, Kemp's campaign and his leadership committee raised at least $82 million, filings show. Abbott raised at least $103 million.
The war chests built by Abrams and O'Rourke come on the heels of both candidates losing in prior elections despite Democrats hailing them as part of the next generation of culture war liberal politicians. Abrams lost by 1.4 percentage points in the 2018 gubernatorial election to Kemp and peddled false claims that it was stolen. The Democrat then founded a group in 2018 called Fair Right Action in order to combat "voter suppression."
"Unfortunately for Stacey Abrams, money can't buy happiness ... or elections," Danielle Repass, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Republican Party, told the Washington Examiner. "Gov. Brian Kemp has a proven record of putting the Peach State first while Stacey Abrams does not; the choice was obvious from the beginning."
O'Rourke, on the other hand, has struggled electorally since leaving his U.S. House seat in Texas to run for Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in 2018. After losing to Cruz, O'Rourke ran a failed presidential campaign in 2020. O'Rourke has sought to nab the youth vote by stumping on college campuses and centralizing culture war issues such as gun control, marijuana legalization, and LGBT rights.
For instance, O'Rourke has sought to tighten firearms laws and said when he was running for president, "Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." His presidential campaign even started selling shirts with a portion of that slogan.
But his left-wing policy positions have made him deeply unpopular in Texas, according to Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist in the Lone Star State.
"He is going backwards," Mackowiak told the Washington Examiner, explaining that he thinks O'Rourke's campaign struggled in 2022 because it focused on "convincing people" Texas is a "terrible state" and, secondly, placing bets on issues that aren't popular in Texas such as gun control.
"He ran an MSNBC campaign in a red state," said Mackowiak. "He ran a progressive campaign in a red state, and it didn't work."
It remains unclear what is next for Abrams and O'Rourke. One Republican strategist told the Washington Examiner they would not be shocked if O'Rourke decided to run for Senate against Cruz once more, noting that O'Rourke could also seek to relocate to another state to run elsewhere.