Democrat Wendy Davis pulled $8.7 million into her gubernatorial campaign coffers in the last half of 2013, and another group committed to her election as governor raised $3.5 million over the same period, the Davis campaign announced Tuesday. Minutes after she announced the combined $12.2 million haul, her expected Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, announced he had raised $11.5 million over the same time frame.
Both had bragging rights: Abbott out-raised Davis when it came to their actual campaign accounts. But Davis had more when counting the joint “Texas Victory Committee” that splits its resources between her campaign and Battleground Texas, a group working to drive up Democratic turnout and make the GOP-ruled state politically competitive.
The Abbott campaign said it was misleading to combine the two pots of money in describing Davis’ total for the last half of 2013.
“It’s more fuzzy math from the Davis campaign,” Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said.
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But Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña said the money is all going to the same purpose: to help Davis become the first Democrat elected governor since Ann Richards won in an upset in 1990.
“The committee is a joint effort between Wendy Davis and Battleground Texas,” Acuña said. “The campaign has asked donors to contribute to the TVC, and that money goes to support the work those organizations conduct in making Wendy Davis the next governor.”
Separately, Battleground Texas will report an additional $1.8 million for its field operations. The group was founded by former field operatives for President Obama. Jenn Brown, executive director of the group, said the money that comes in from the joint committee would “absolutely” be used to support Davis’ efforts. She said Abbott’s campaign criticized the structure of Davis’ fundraising operation because he’s worried.
“That’s what I would say, too, if I had raised less,” Brown said. “I think this shows the excitement Texas has for Wendy, and they’re trying to discredit it and it’s terrible for him.”
Besides unveiling the combined $12.2 million haul, Team Davis also said that the Fort Worth senator had collected donations from 71,000 contributors from Texas and around the United States.
By comparison, Gov. Rick Perry reported about 8,000 contributors during the half year preceding his 2010 re-election, records show. The Davis campaign said contributor figures don’t include repeat donors. Perry’s does include them.
Candidates for state office are required to disclose their donations and spending to the Texas Ethics Commission by Wednesday at midnight. The Davis campaign voluntarily disclosed various totals, but the actual reports — which contain the names of donors, how much was spent and other details — weren’t available Tuesday evening.
Davis has token opposition in the primary and is expected to face Abbott in November. A handful of candidates are running in the Republican primary for governor but are given virtually no chance of winning.
Abbott, heavily favored to win, will report $27 million in the bank, his campaign said. Since gaining national attention after her June filibuster over a bill on stricter abortion regulations, Davis has gotten a large number of donations from out of state, and Abbott’s campaign was eager to point out that nearly all of his money came from Texas.
“This is a campaign by Texans, for Texans, and Greg Abbott is humbled and excited by the widespread support from across the state,” Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton said. “Our campaign will continue to talk about and promote ideas to make Texas’ education system number one in the nation, continue to grow jobs, limit the size and scope of government, and preserve individual freedom.”
Here is a Texas Tribune analysis of some of the trends evident from the candidates’ past reports, based on contributions from the beginning of their careers through Aug. 5 of last year:
• Davis’ June filibuster turned her into a national fundraising magnet. On the day after her filibuster, June 26, Davis raised $150,000 from more than 150 individuals. In the ensuing days and weeks, small donations poured in from around the U.S. and even from Americans living abroad.
• Abbott has shown an ability to tap into a network of small donors, too. But he has been particularly adept at pulling down huge sums from wealthy businessmen. On the same day that Davis raked in $150,000 after the filibuster, Abbott raised far more — and from more individuals. He received four separate donations of $100,000 that day, including from Dallas oilman Ray Hunt and Houston Texans owner Robert McNair. A day later, he got five donations of $100,000, including from former Houston Astros owner Drayton McLane and the Republican State Leadership Committee in Washington, D.C.
• Though she has far fewer eye-popping donations than Abbott (at least as of August), Davis is no stranger to big-dollar contributors. Wealthy Houston trial lawyer Steve Mostyn and his law firm have given Davis nearly $600,000. And Fort Worth billionaire Sid Bass has given her $200,000.