Austin Democrat Donna Imam outraised U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, in the past three months, but fell significantly short of her $1 million goal she laid out in August and still has yet to catch up to the congressman’s cash-on-hand advantage.
Imam, 44, a computer engineer, raised $551,489 to Carter’s $402,184 from July 1 to Sept. 30, according to Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports. This is the first time Imam has raised more money than her GOP opponent in their race to represent Texas’ 31st Congressional District.
Imam — who has not answered questions about her silencing local voters on social media — may have had a nearly $150,000 advantage in fundraising, but Carter, 78, has significantly more money in his savings account.
The nine-term incumbent has nearly three times as much cash on hand than the political newcomer. Carter has $1,057,755 in his warchest. Imam has $380,251 in her coffers.
“With less than a month until Election Day, I want to give my sincerest thank you to my supporters,” Carter said in an Oct. 8 tweet announcing his cash on hand number. “Because of you, my campaign has over $1.1 million COH to connect and engage with Central Texans in these last few weeks.”
Carter also spent more than Imam. He had $266,814 in disbursements to Imam’s $213,337, according to their campaign finance reports.
Carter was one of six GOP incumbents outraised in the third quarter of the year, The Texas Tribune reported. Nine of the 10 Democrats running in districts targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — the U.S. House Democrats’ group focused on bolstering their party’s numbers in the lower chamber — outraised their Republican opponents, according to the Tribune.
“I’m going to make this promise: If we get a million dollars, we’re going to flip this district blue,” Imam said in August during an online donor event. “I’m making this promise on video, so you’re going to hold me to it.”
About two weeks remain until Election Day, Nov. 3. It is unlikely Imam will be able to meet that target of $1 million — barring a major infusion of cash from donors or Democrat-aligned political action committees.
It took Imam — who has not hosted any in-person events and has focused on online donor events with her major supporters, including playing the board game Dungeons & Dragons on Monday — three months to raise more than half a million dollars.
By this time in the 2018 election, Air Force veteran MJ Hegar had outraised Carter twice and had two consecutive quarters in which she brought in more than $1 million. Hegar, a Democrat, is now challenging three-term incumbent Republican John Cornyn for his U.S. Senate seat.
That election showed that money is not the surefire way to win. Hegar raised more than $5.1 million to deny Carter another term, but he ultimately won by just 3 percentage points. The Round Rock Republican raised $1.8 million in 2018.
Unlike Hegar’s House bid, Imam has yet to attract major national Democratic organizations to the race.
The DCCC announced it would target District 31 in January 2019 — more than a year and a half before Imam would clinch her party’s nomination. And the group has not added Imam to its “Red to Blue” program, which would give the Democrat organizational and fundraising support.
The Cook Political Report, an independent, non-partisan newsletter, rates District 31 as Likely Republican.
Early voting ends Oct. 30, and Nov. 3 is Election Day.