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Soros Backs O’Rourke’s Bid for Texas Governor With $1 Million

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(Bloomberg) -- George Soros is throwing his financial support behind Democrat Beto O’Rourke as he seeks to become the next governor of Texas.

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Soros donated $1 million to the underdog’s Beto for Texas political action committee last month, according to filings released Tuesday by the Texas Ethics Commission. It’s tied for the largest-ever contribution to O’Rourke, along with $1 million donations each from Austin-based philanthropists Simone and Tench Coxe.

Soros, a 91-year-old billionaire who frequently supports progressive causes, has been active in Texas politics before, for example contributing $500,000 last year to defeat a ballot initiative in Austin that would have forced the city to hire hundreds of police officers. Republicans including Governor Greg Abbott often paint him as an outsider seeking to impose liberal values on a deep-red state.

An O’Rourke spokesman acknowledged the donation, while seeking to highlight that much of the candidate’s fundraising comes from small-dollar donors.

Representatives for Soros didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

According to the filing, Soros made the donation to O’Rourke’s campaign a day before the US Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to an abortion. Soros spoke out against the decision, warning it “diminishes human rights.”

Texas is one of several states that immediately banned abortions following the Supreme Court decision, and before that it already had one of the country’s most restrictive abortion laws.

Polls show O’Rourke, a former US congressman, gaining ground against Abbott ahead of the November vote, with recent surveys showing him trailing by mid-single digits. The polling results suggest recent events like the abortion ban and Uvalde school shooting have undermined the incumbent.

O’Rourke pulled in more money than Abbott during the most recent campaign fundraising period, raising almost $28 million. Still, Abbott has a massive warchest with $45.7 million cash on hand versus $23.9 million for O’Rourke, as of June 30.

Abbott has also received seven-figure donations in 2021, including $1 million from Kelcy Warren, chairman of Energy Transfer LP and a major GOP donor, according to Texas Ethics Commission records.

Texas is one of several states that don’t set contribution limits on political donations to campaigns, allowing donors to write checks in much larger amounts than they can for federal candidates. When O’Rourke raised $80 million in his unsuccessful 2018 challenge to Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the maximum donation he could accept was set at $2,800.

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