Democratic presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke speaks with CNBC’s John Harwood.

Mary Catherine Wellons | CNBC

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign announced that it raised $3.6 million in the second quarter of 2019.

The haul puts O’Rourke in the lower tier of 2020 contenders who have struggled to raise campaign cash to keep pace with the primary leaders, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

In an email to supporters, O’Rourke’s campaign manager, Jen O’Malley Dillon, called for calm but noted they’re still building their campaign.

“We’re building our team in El Paso slowly but surely. Our National Finance Director started this week. Our Digital Director started a month ago. We’re going to grow, and our ability to fundraise is going to grow with it,” she said.

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For O’Rourke, the drop in fundraising is the latest sign of an organization that has struggled to find its footing after almost taking down Sen. Ted Cruz during a run for his seat in the Lone Star State last year. While the three-term congressman ended up losing that race, his fundraising prowess set up high expectations if he made a run for president. He finished the senate contest raising just under $80 million.

O’Rourke’s 2020 campaign began in the first quarter of 2019, and in that period he brought in an initial underwhelming $9.3 million.

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Announcement follows questionable debate showing

The second quarter fundraising announcement comes on the heels of a widely criticized debate performance. O’Rourke was at times taken on directly by a few candidates that night, including former HUD secretary Julian Castro. Some pundits later called on O’Rourke to drop out of the race.

The next day, donors and grassroots activists spoke with O’Rourke about his performance, with some giving him tips on how to improve in the next round.

On Tuesday, donors are expected to hold another conference call with O’Rourke, according to people familiar with the matter, and they will likely be discussing his overall fundraising performance, these people added.

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His campaign noted that he has officially met the Democratic National Committee’s donor requirement for the fall primary debates.

Still, he continues to lag in the polls. He’s currently ranked sixth in a Real Clear Politics polling average with 2.6 percent of the vote.


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