Dem strategist says South Carolina will be first 'real test' for O'Rourke

A former advisor to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHouse Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally House Intel Republican: 'Foolish' not to take info on opponent from foreign ally It's about the delegates, stupid MORE in South Carolina said Monday that the state will prove to be the first real test for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in the Democratic primary race.

“Beto’s success will determine how well he does in the most important state in the Democratic primary and that’s South Carolina, that will be the real test for him,” Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright, told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton during a panel discussion.

“It will be the first test for campaign structure … and the most loyal voting block in our party, and that’s African American voters,” he added.

African-Americans made up 61 percent of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina in 2016, making a vital voter block for 2020 candidates in the state.

However, 2020 could be an uphill battle for Democrats. Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE, carried the state by more than 54 percent of the vote in the 2016 election. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received roughly 40 percent of the vote.

Seawright’s comments come after news that O’Rourke raked in millions of online donations that exceeded the amounts raised by his 2020 rivals, including Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg on Biden's Iraq War vote: 'that vote was a mistake' Buttigieg on Biden's Iraq War vote: 'that vote was a mistake' The generational divide of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party MORE (I-Vt.) among others.

O’Rourke’s campaign issued a press release Monday, announcing that the former Texas congressman raised more than $6.1 million during the first 24 hours of his presidential bid.

“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 the press release. 

Seawright acknowledged that while O'Rourke's fundraising haul is impressive, he emphasized that it doesn't necessarily translate to votes.

Even though O'Rourke raised more than $80 million for his Senate campaign last year, the former congressman still narrowly lost his race against incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez and Cruz's dialogue shows common ground isn't just for moderates Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists MORE (R) in the 2018 midterm elections.

“Beto has to make sure that translates to voters and caucus around the country,” the Democratic strategist told Hill.TV.

—Tess Bonn