Even if Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke dislikes and disavows the use of super PACs in federal elections, they have become part of the reality of modern politics. And now there is one whose aim is to defeat Republican incumbent Senator Ted Cruz—and, by extension, help O’Rourke.
The Fire Ted Cruz committee—officially the FTC PAC—makes a point on its website to note that it is “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” And so far, there are only two major donors: $100,000 from investment banker Vaughn Vennerberg II of MorningStar Partners and $10,000 from Dallas trial lawyer Marc Stanley. Federal law prevents these PACs from coordinating with any campaign, but that doesn’t mean someone like O’Rourke wouldn’t benefit from a political action committee that is targeting his opponent.
“This was a really good opportunity because the research shows that the time is right to fire Ted Cruz,” said Stanley, who described himself as chairman of the FTC PAC. “I think he’s awful. He’s not only disliked by his colleagues, he’s disliked by millions of Americans. He’s a self-centered hypocrite that continually lies about his actions. We think he’s vulnerable and we want to make sure the voters know exactly how bad he is.”
At the moment, the committee only has the website FTedCruz.com. (If that strikes you as a double entendre, it would not be for me to say whether you have a dirty mind.) Whether it grows into a full-scale super PAC with television and radio advertising remains to be seen, Stanley told me.
“I don’t know how it evolves. We’re going to test what resonates with voters in Texas and donors nationally. It’s our goal to get the message out that this guy’s just wrong for Texas and wrong for America,” Stanley said.
O’Rourke has been raising more money on his own than Cruz, setting records for a Texas Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. But lurking in the background of Cruzland is a super PAC aligned with his campaign, Texans Are. A handful of millionaires have funded Texans Are to the tune of about $1.7 million so far cash-on-hand.
Stanely said it is unlikely his committee will be able to match the Cruz super PAC. “I don’t think we’re going to see the mega-donors that the Republican PACs can attract. We’re going to see money through smaller donors,” he said. And that might be more possible because of the excitement O’Rourke is creating among the Democratic base voters.
“We haven’t really had this kind of excitement in Texas since 1990, when Ann Richards ran for governor,” Stanley said. “Many times people have tried to persuade major donors that this was the time, and people may have felt burned in the past. This is the best opportunity since 1990 with an authentic candidate on the Democratic side and a flawed candidate on the Republican side. It reminds me of Ann Richards versus Clayton Williams.”