Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is on a roll. He’s surging in the polls, crushing the establishment lane frontrunner Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in the narrative and many polls, and about to hit the trail in Iowa for a six-day tour of 36 different counties.
Now the Wall Street Journal reports some extra promising news for the conservative Texan: he raised a whopping $20 million in the fourth quarter of 2015.
“Sen. Ted Cruz raised almost $20 million for his presidential campaign in the fourth quarter — a 66% increase over the previous three-month period, according to campaign officials and a memo that shows how the Texas Republican’s fundraising pace accelerated as he has gained in the polls,” the Wall Street Journal’s Janet Hook wrote.
In a staff memo that Hook obtained, Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe recounted how the Texas Senator and conservative firebrand’s campaign has raked in more than $45 million in 2015. Those numbers are hands down more than likely to be more than any other 2016 GOP presidential candidate’s actual campaign sans their Super PACs.
“Jeff Roe, Mr. Cruz’s campaign manager, said in a memo to staff and supporters that the campaign’s year end fundraising total would come to more than $45 million, up from the $26 million raised by the end of September,” Hook wrote. “The $20 million haul in the final three months of 2015 is up sharply from the $12.2 million raised in the third quarter, a bonanza that came as polls showed Mr. Cruz rising to a top-tier candidate from a back-of-the-pack contender in the crowded GOP candidate field. By the end of the third quarter, Mr. Cruz already had more cash on hand than any other GOP candidate. Official fundraising reports of how campaigns fared in the fourth quarter do not have to be released until Jan. 31.”
The great news for Cruz comes as his chief rival on the establishment side of the party, Rubio, is in a downward spiral. Rubio has come under fire in recent days for double speak on National Security Agency (NSA) spying, his championing of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill with future Democratic Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and for having been the U.S. Senate’s most “absentee” senator, skipping votes and national security briefings. Rubio, who has trotted out a power player endorsement from Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) who joined him on the trail in Iowa this week, has for the first time this cycle not been able to easily fight off the mounting criticism of him from all sides of the party.
That Cruz released his fundraising numbers a full day before the fourth quarter ends—it technically ends at midnight on New Year’s Eve—shows a serious position of strength. No other campaign, including Rubio’s, has released their numbers yet. The filing deadline, according to the Federal Election Commission, for this quarter and the year-end numbers is not until Jan. 31, 2016, which gives campaigns a full month before they are required by law to tell the public what they really raised. That’s the day before the Iowa caucuses, which are on Feb. 1, so candidates who don’t release their numbers early in January could have something—potentially embarrassingly low totals—to hide.
Rubio’s team hasn’t released their numbers yet and hasn’t responded to a request from Breitbart News for where they’re at a year-to-date in fundraising or what they hauled in in the fourth quarter of the year. But in the third quarter of 2015, Rubio barely squeaked by, raising a paltry $6 million. As the supposed donor class candidate of 2016, publicly backed by multiple billionaires, $6 million in a quarter is troubling. If Rubio doesn’t significantly improve that total in his fourth quarter and year end numbers, he’s going to be a sitting duck walking into the early parts of 2016.
Cruz still has GOP frontrunner Donald Trump—a wild card who’s paying his own way in 2016, despite unsolicited small dollar donations coming into his campaign—to contend with down the road. Trump has, despite eons of predictions from the permanent political class in Washington to the contrary, not faded in this election cycle. Trump has remained well atop virtually every poll sans some in Iowa that predict Cruz winning the Hawkeye State—and has remained in control of the political narrative since very early on in his candidacy.
With Rubio fading fast into the crowded establishment column with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie nipping at his heels, the race very well could come down to Trump and Cruz heading into the deeper parts of the primary. Many in the establishment, U.S. News and World Report’s Dave Catanese detailed earlier this week, are begrudgingly preparing for the possibility this race comes down to a battle between the two political outsiders—both of whom are universally detested by the political class in Washington.
“After months of obstinate denial and simmering dismay, Republican elites are soberly coming to the conclusion that 2016 may be the year the raucous insurgent faction of the party finally topples the usually sturdy mainstream contingent in the presidential race,” Catanese wrote. “The twin renegade candidacies of real estate mogul Donald Trump and junior Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are packing the potency and endurance to be plausible ultimate victors of the primary – an outcome deemed doubtful by wide swaths of GOP leadership just a few months ago.”