US Democrat Beto O’Rourke has raised a record $6.1 million in the opening day of his presidential campaign, signalling fundraising prowess for the 2020 Democratic nomination (STEPHEN MATUREN)

Washington (AFP) – Democrat Beto O’Rourke pulled in a record $6.1 million in the 24 hours after announcing his US presidential run, outraising the crowded field of challengers to Donald Trump in 2020.

The former congressman from Texas, who rose to national prominence last year with an inspirational but ultimately unsuccessful effort to unseat Senator Ted Cruz, jumped into the presidential race last Thursday in a closely-watched kick-off.

“In just 24 hours, Americans across this country came together to prove that it is possible to run a true grassroots campaign for president — a campaign by all of us for all of us that answers not to the PACs, corporations and special interests but to the people,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

Like most other major Democrats running for the nomination, O’Rourke has sworn off contributions from corporations and political action committees, groups that raise money in support of a candidate.

The 46-year-old Texan impressively eclipsed the $5.9 million opening-day haul of Senator Bernie Sanders, the liberal icon who maintains a vast database of supporters and donors from his 2016 presidential race.

That O’Rourke outraised Sanders and all other Democrats on Day 1 signals he will be able to draw massive donations on a national level by tapping into his own substantial support list from his Texas Senate campaign, which helped him pull in $79 million for that race.

Hours after announcing his candidacy, O’Rourke embarked on a three-day, 837-mile (1,347-kilometer) road trip across Iowa, the state that votes first in 2020 in the party primary process.

He headed to Wisconsin at the weekend, and is in Michigan and Ohio on Monday.

All four states voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but swung to Trump in the 2016 election.

Experts say grassroots enthusiasm among Democrats and Republicans, coupled with increasingly seamless online donor options for voters, could help the 2020 presidential cycle break records for total small-dollar donations.

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