Search

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mother's Milk of Politics

On August 29, all statewide candidates were required to file campaign finance reports detailing their contributions accepted from June 26 - July 30.  This report is in addition the semiannual reports candidates were required to file on July 15, which included all contributions accepted during the first six months of 2013.

The August 29 report is an anomaly in Texas campaign finance.  Usually, in odd-numbered years, statewide candidates are only required to report their contributions accepted in six month increments.  The report covering the first six months of the year is due July 15, and the report covering the last six months of the year is due January 15 of the next year.  The difference this year is the special session.  While lawmakers are prohibited from accepting contributions during the regular session and continuing through the Governor's veto period, they are allowed to accept contributions during a special session.  The catch is that each contribution accepted during a special session must be reported to the Texas Ethics Commission by 30 days after the end of the special session.  This year, Governor Perry called three special sessions.  The second special session, which ran from July 1 - July 30, triggered a campaign finance report for each of these candidates that was due August 29.

Historically, candidates work hard at the end of a reporting period to receive as many contributions as they can to make their numbers look good.  In addition to pushing up the fundraising numbers (used by members of the public, including this author, as one indication of a candidate's relative strength or weakness), this also results in a deflated fundraising period in the months following the end of a reporting period.  This is especially true in the summer, when larger donors are frequently on vacation and therefore unreachable by candidates, resulting in fewer contributions during the period.

Below is a chart showing the fundraising totals for each of the announced statewide candidates, broken down into three different periods.  The first period is January 1 - June 16, when only those candidates who are not currently statewide officeholders or sitting legislators may raise money.  The second period is June 17 - June 30, which is the big fundraising push when all sitting officeholders are able to raise money (these figures were reported on the candidates' July campaign finance reports).  The third period is July 1 - July 30, which is covered by the special session report.


Candidate
Office Sought
Jan. 1 - June 16
June 17 - June 30
July 1 - July 30
New Loans
Total 2013
Greg Abbott
Governor
               - 
       4,791,017 
       1,005,462 
           - 
   5,796,479 
Wendy Davis
Governor (Expected)
               - 
         933,471 
         413,589 
           - 
   1,347,059 
Tom Pauken
Governor
         105,671 
          25,772 
          39,070 
     100,000 
     270,512 
David Dewhurst
Lt. Governor
               - 
       1,213,957 
          82,723 
           - 
   1,296,680 
Dan Patrick
Lt. Governor
               - 
          86,490 
          16,129 
     650,000 
     752,619 
Jerry Patterson
Lt. Governor
               - 
         418,792 
          17,864 
           - 
     436,655 
Todd Staples
Lt. Governor
               - 
       1,003,333 
          36,208 
           - 
   1,039,541 
Dan Branch
Attorney General
               - 
       1,762,990 
         203,892 
           - 
   1,966,882 
Ken Paxton
Attorney General
               - 
         278,621 
          44,250 
           - 
     322,871 
Barry Smitherman
Attorney General
               - 
         698,770 
          36,779 
           - 
     735,549 
Glenn Hegar
Comptroller
               - 
         221,462 
          39,500 
           - 
     260,962 
Harvey Hilderbran
Comptroller
               - 
         116,061 
               - 
           - 
     116,061 
Debra Medina
Comptroller
          24,400 
          30,627 
           2,670 
           - 
      57,697 
Raul Torres
Comptroller
           2,250 
             100 
              50 
           - 
       2,400 
George P. Bush
Land Comm.
       1,844,696 
         232,638 
          60,081 
           - 
   2,137,415 
David Watts
Land Comm.
               - 
             270 
           1,685 
           - 
       1,955 
J. Carnes
Agriculture Comm.
          25,500 
          41,243 
          11,100 
           - 
      77,843 
Brandon Creighton
Agriculture Comm.
               - 
         567,900 

           - 
     567,900 
Eric Opiela
Agriculture Comm.
               - 
           7,625 
          56,325 
      25,000 
      88,950 
Becky Berger
Railroad Comm.
             675 
               - 
             200 
           - 
         875 
Malachi Boyuls
Railroad Comm.
           1,255 
         196,775 
          33,055 
     132,500 
     363,585 
Stefani Carter
Railroad Comm.
               - 
          10,592 
           4,491 
         130 
      15,213 
Ray Keller
Railroad Comm.
               - 
               - 
             250 
           - 
         250 


After reviewing the numbers, there are a few takeaways:

Attorney General Greg Abbott is a fundraising powerhouse.  General Abbott, who announced he had approximately $21 million in the bank as of June 30, has been known for years as a prolific fundraiser. This was put on display with his June fundraising totals, where he raised nearly $4.8 million, smashing all fundraising records during the period in Texas. What is just as impressive, however, is that he has been able to keep up his fundraising during July, pulling in an additional $1 million--for a total of nearly $5.8 million raised in 44 days.  This number is even more impressive by comparison: General Abbott raised almost as much during July as the other 22 candidates on this list did combined.  In case anyone had not been paying attention at all, this shows that General Abbott will be a fully funded candidate for his race next year.

Senator Wendy Davis is a strong fundraiser as well. Senator Davis, who is expected by most to announce her candidacy for Governor in the coming weeks, rose to national attention with her June filibuster of abortion legislation on the floor of the Senate.  She raised almost $1 million in the first 14 days of fundraising, followed up by another $413,588.55 in July.  Should Senator Davis decide to run for Governor, it appears she has the ability to raise significant sums of money, making her competitive (at least financially) in such a race.  Despite her fundraising success, General Abbott is still out-raising her 4:1.  Nevertheless, her ability to raise money makes it easy to see why Democrats, both in Texas and across the nation, have been discussing her possible candidacy with optimism.

The Lieutenant Governor's race will be an expensive affair.  Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, a three-term incumbent, has the ability to self-fund his campaign. Governor Dewhurst raised more money than each of his competitors, both in the June fundraising period and in the month of July.  Though he has a significant financial advantage, both from his fundraising and his personal wealth, his challengers appear able to raise money on their own to be competitive.  Leading the pack is Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, the only challenger to break the $1 million mark.  Unlike General Abbott and Senator Davis, the four Lt. Governor candidates saw their fundraising totals drop precipitously between the last 14 days of June and the first 30 days of July, which is to be expected for reasons already mentioned.

Representative Dan Branch continues his monetary advantage in the race for Attorney General. Representative Branch raised almost twice as much as his two opponents (Senator Ken Paxton and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman) raised combined in June, and doubled their July take as well. Rep. Branch has long been a successful fundraiser, and he will be a fully funded candidate in 2014. Senator Paxton and Commissioner Smitherman both raised respectable amounts in June, though they saw a July drop-off in fundraising similar to those seen by other candidates during that period.  (Disclosure:  The author serves as campaign treasurer for Commissioner Smitherman.)

The money race for Comptroller has Sen. Hegar and Rep. Hilderbran far ahead of the other candidates, Debra Medina and former Rep. Raul Torres.  Many view Sen. Hegar as the favorite in this race because of his ability to raise money--if he wins, he's Comptroller, and if he loses, he's still a state senator. Rep. Hilderbran reported no contributions received in July.

George P. Bush will be fully funded.  Surprising no one, Mr. Bush, who is running for Land Comm., put up big numbers this year.  Look for him to continue collecting cash throughout the election cycle.  If he does not have a serious opponent and is therefore able to conserve his funds, Mr. Bush could enter the 2015 session as a sitting statewide officeholder with one of the largest war chests in the state.

Representative Brandon Creighton leads the pack in the fundraising race for Agriculture Commissioner, far eclipsing his opponents.

In the Railroad Commission race, Malachi Boyuls is the only candidate currently showing the ability to raise serious money.