Presidential candidates raise millions in Texas

04/27/2012 11:32 PM

04/30/2012 11:06 PM

Texans have been among the biggest donors in this year's presidential race, pumping tens of millions of dollars into candidate campaign coffers - with half a year still left until the November general election.

Even though Gov. Rick Perry has been out of the race for months, Texas donors have continued sending money to presidential candidates. "Texas is rich in political donors, big givers who want the prizes that come to contributors -- returned telephone calls, appointments and influence," said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. There's a "concentration of wealth in a large population of people who have lots of excess cash."

Perry has received the largest share of Texas dollars, pulling in $10.8 million from his home state, followed by GOP presidential front-runner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who reeled in $5 million.

Democratic President Barack Obama follows with $4.67 million from Texans, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., which compiled federal campaign records that include the most recent reports of first-quarter donations.

The last remaining Texan in the race -- Republican Ron Paul -- has the fourth-most Texas money, drawing $1.67 million. Former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who suspended his campaign April 10, picked up $1.3 million from Texans; and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is expected to suspend his campaign soon, raised $1.1 million here, data show.

Texas was out-donated only by California, where residents have sent $34.4 million to presidential candidates, compared with $26.4 million from Texas. New York follows Texas by giving $23 million, Florida is next with $17.54 million, and Illinois follows with $11.2 million, the center's data show.

The five Texas communities that donated the most to presidential candidates: Houston, $8 million; Dallas, $5.7 million; Austin-San Marcos, $3.2 million; San Antonio, $2 million; and Fort Worth-Arlington, $1.8 million.

"Our donor tradition is old," said Allan Saxe, associate professor of government at the University of Texas in Arlington.

"We are the second most populous state in the Union with lots of wealthy donors, both Democratic and Republican and other parties as well. Oil, lots of highways, ranching and farming have both fueled and been recipients of campaign cash.

"The big donors still can and will give in the presidential campaign as it begins in earnest."

Here's a look at some donations Texans made to presidential candidates this year, according to the Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics.

Rick Perry

Texas' governor dropped out of the presidential race on Jan. 19, but during his five-month pursuit of the GOP presidential nomination, he gained the financial backing of residents in his home state. Fort Worth-Arlington residents put more than $750,000 into his campaign coffers, trailing amounts given by donors in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio.

He continued to receive some donations from Texans even after pulling out of the presidential race -- including some in the Metroplex -- and records show many of those donations were returned. His campaign received donations from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Houston home builder Bob Perry, as well as Fort Worth leaders such as pianist Van Cliburn and several Bass and Moncrief family members.

Mitt Romney

The GOP presidential front-runner -- who gained endorsements from former President George H. W. Bush in March and from Perry after Gingrich indicated he would end his bid in the coming days -- has also received financial support from Texans.

In the first three months of this year, he landed high-profile local donations, including $1,500 from Charles B. Moncrief of Fort Worth; $2,500 from Richard W. Moncrief of Fort Worth; $1,000 from Mercedes Bass of Fort Worth; and $250 from Freddy Ford of Dallas, a spokesman for former President George W. Bush. Last year, high-profile Texas donors included Jerry Jones, Fort Worth philanthropist Anne Marion, Bob Perry and Dallas real estate mogul Harlan Crow.

Barack Obama

Texas may be one of the most Republican states in the country, but more than a thousand Texans have donated to the president's re-election campaign.

Donations have come from retirees, homemakers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, investors, soldiers and more. Among the local donors this year were former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, $250; Fort Worth attorney and Tarrant Regional Water District board member Jim Lane, $250; Fort Worth attorney David Chappell, $250; and Tonya Veasey, owner of Open Channels Group and wife of state Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, $250. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, was among statewide donors.

Ron Paul

The last Texan in the race -- and after next week, the only Republican still challenging Romney -- has received thousands of donations from Texans from all walks of life. Recent town halls he held around the state, including one in Fort Worth, have drawn standing-room-only crowds.

Ranchers, housewives, doctors, dentists, lawyers, students, massage therapists, construction workers, engineers and members of the military are among the Texans who donated to the Lake Jackson doctor's presidential campaign.

Since beginning his bid for the White House last year, Paul has raised more than $110,000 from residents of the Fort Worth-Arlington region. One of Paul's sons -- Robert -- runs a family medical practice in Benbrook and lives in Fort Worth.

Rick Santorum

The former senator from Pennsylvania made great headway in Texas, where political pundits believed he could win the primary. His rallies drew thousands.

As far back as February, he told a North Texas crowd that this state would move him closer to the White House. But he suspended his campaign April 10 after his daughter Bella, who was born with Trisomy 18 chromosomal disorder, was released from the hospital.

A variety of Texans donated to his campaign before then, including Michael Brasovan, a Tea Party candidate who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, in 2010.

Santorum collected more than $135,000 from Fort Worth-Arlington residents, and picked up the endorsement of U.S. Senate candidate and former ESPN analyst Craig James.

Newt Gingrich

The former House speaker, who received Rick Perry's endorsement, has indicated that he will suspend his presidential campaign in the next few days. He has received more than 1,000 donations from Texans, including about $100,000 from Fort Worth-Arlington donors.

The long-time politician, who drew sizable crowds at campaign events in North Texas, received financial support from local doctors, retirees, homemakers, teachers, engineers, office managers, airlines analysts and more.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley

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