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Cruz Nets $4.3M With Help of Texas' Top GOP Donors

In early campaign fundraising, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is adding some deep-pocketed Texas donors to the loyal base of small givers backing his presidential bid.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz speaks to supporters with his father Rafael, left, and wife Heidi, back, outside his new presidential campaign headquarters in Houston on Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Some of Texas' top Republican donors are ponying up for Ted Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign, according to figures disclosed late Wednesday that affirm the Texas senator's unexpected fundraising prowess out of the gate.

Among the bold-faced names writing checks for Cruz's bid in its opening days: San Antonio businessman Red McCombs, Dallas investor Robert Rowling and the family of Houston Texans owner Bob McNair. Many of the notable names gave Cruz $5,400 — the maximum amount they could for the 2016 cycle — while some offered even more than the legal limit in a show of enthusiasm and received refunds. 

All said, Cruz raked in more than $4.3 million in the first nine days of his campaign, according to its inaugural quarterly report filed with the Federal Elections Commission. The total was expected as Cruz's campaign had already disclosed raising more than $4 million in just over a week. 

After spending about $370,000 through the end of March — most of it on credit-card processing fees — Cruz had more than $3.9 million in the bank heading into April, according to the FEC figures.

“We are deeply grateful for the millions of courageous conservatives who have stood up to give both time and resources to the Cruz campaign, signaling robust support for Ted’s vision to reignite the promise of America and make D.C. listen to the American people," Cruz campaign manager Jeff Roe said Thursday in a statement.

At this early stage, Cruz has exceeded his campaign's fundraising expectations and those of fellow Republicans who were skeptical he could find deep-pocketed givers to match his devoted, small-dollar donor base. In addition to opening their wallets for his campaign, some of the GOP's fundraising heavyweights are expected to fuel a network of super PACs that say they have already raised tens of millions of dollars to support Cruz's bid.

To be sure, the FEC report shows Cruz still has the support of the small-dollar donors who helped send him to the Senate in 2012: 44 percent of the more than $4.3 million came from contributors giving $200 or less. His campaign boasted Thursday that 95 percent of all donations came from individuals giving $100 or less, helping lead to an average contribution of $84.09.

Cruz's disclosure indicates he is making some inroads with the kind of GOP donors who shunned him during his upstart 2012 campaign for the Senate against then-Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. Rowling, for example, contributed to a super PAC supporting Dewhurst in 2012, according to the Center for Public Integrity. 

Cruz's report includes some more predictable donors, such as Houston conservative power broker Steven Hotze and Houston investment adviser Willie Langston, long expected to play a senior role in Cruz's fundraising operation. Hal Lambert, the Fort Worth money manager who left the Texas GOP for Cruz's campaign, was also among Cruz's inaugural donors.

More broadly, though, Cruz's report speaks to the growing competition for donor dollars in Texas, which has ties to several White House hopefuls, chief among them Cruz and former Gov. Rick Perry. Earlier this year, Perry named dozens of prominent GOP donors to an advisory board for his political action committee, and a few of their names — including McCombs' — also can be found among Cruz's contributors. 

Disclosure: Red  McCombs and Robert Rowling are major donors to The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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Politics 2016 elections Ted Cruz