2014: A costly election year

07/20/2014 3:53 PM

07/21/2014 3:50 PM

With control of the Legislature hanging in the balance, the cost of the battle for Texas Senate District 10 in North Texas is soaring, and likely to get a lot more expensive.

With less than four months until the election, Texans so far have sent nearly half a million dollars to Republican Konni Burton and Democrat Libby Willis, who are vying for the seat Democrat Wendy Davis holds.

The amount should quickly grow.

This race “will, without question, be the most expensive and most extensively covered state legislative race in Texas this fall,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. “As we move into the fall, greater attention will be paid to [this] face-off.”

More than $1.3 million has been raised in legislative and statewide races that involve local candidates, excluding the governor’s race, with the bulk in Fort Worth Republican George P. Bush’s bid for land commissioner, Texas Ethics Commission reports say.

In Senate District 10, Burton, a Colleyville grassroots conservative, has raised $250,000 and has $43,364 in the bank. Willis, a longtime Fort Worth neighborhood leader, has pulled in $210,000 and has $102,389 on hand, according to reports filed with the state that reflect donations since February.

“Those are modest amounts for a Texas election race,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “But that amount will certainly pick up between now and Election Day.”

Here’s a look at the money involved this year in some contested legislative and statewide races that involve local candidates, according to reports filed last week with the Ethics Commission.

Senate District 10

The battle for this post — which represents communities including Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield and Colleyville — is a key because it could move Republicans closer to a supermajority in the Senate, essentially removing Texas Democrats’ ability to stop any proposal in the legislature.

Political observers also say this is the one Texas race that is neither a safe Republican or Democratic area, which makes it a key swing district.

“District 10 leans a little Republican, but it’s not out of the question that a Democrat can hold it,” Jones said.

Burton’s donations include $10,161 from the Accountability First Political Action Committee; $5,000 from Fraser for Texas Senate; $2,500 from Chesapeake Energy for Texans PAC; $1,794 from Monty Bennett, a Dallas hotelier; and $250 from Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder.

Willis’ donations include $21,750 from Annie’s List, a Texas group that backs female Democratic candidates; $4,500 from the Texas Democratic Party; $3,272.55 from Battleground Texas, a grassroots group working to turn Texas blue; and $250 from former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr.

The Green Party’s John Tunmire raised $200 and has no money in the bank. Libertarian Gene Lord raised nothing, spent nothing and has no cash on hand.

Senate District 9

Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, raised $67,925 this year and has $171,804 on hand. His Democratic challenger, Gregory R. Perry of North Richland Hills, received $10,145 in contributions and has $1,763 in the bank.

Hancock’s donations include $10,000 from the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma, $5,000 from the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, $1,000 from the Fort Worth Firefighters Committee for Responsible Government and $1,000 from Fort Worth businessman Lee Bass, youngest of the four Bass brothers.

Perry’s donations include $5,000 from himself, $4,000 from Josh Frayer of Richland Hills and $100 from Tarrant County Democratic Chairwoman Deborah Peoples.

House District 91

State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, raised $6,225 and has more than $18,000 on hand, with $27,000 in outstanding loans. Richland Hills Democrat David L. Ragan raised $400, has $400 in the bank and owes $2,000 in outstanding loans.

Klick‘s donations include $3,000 from Accountability First; $1,500 from the Oncor PAC; $1,000 from the Private Providers Association of Texas; and $250 from Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth.

Ragan‘s donations were $100 each from Fort Worth Councilwoman Gyna Bivins, former state District Judge Maryellen Hicks, William Lanford of Fort Worth and Jo-Ann Zimmerman of Euless.

No report was available for Libertarian Felecia Whatley of Watauga.

House District 92

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, pulled in more than $25,000, has $6,638 in the bank and owes $37,500 in loans. Bedford Democrat Tina Penney raised nearly $10,000, has $6,897 on hand and owes $221.65 in loans.

Stickland‘s donations include $10,000 from Monty Bennett of Dallas; $2,000 from Blackridge, an Austin-based governmental affairs practice; $1,000 from the AT&T Texas PAC; and $350 from Michael Q. Sullivan of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Penney’s donations include $1,400 from the Texas Democratic Party, $1,750 from the Northeast Tarrant County Democrats, $250 from the Greater Arlington Mansfield Democratic Women and $50 from Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon.

House District 94

Arlington Republican Tony Tinderholt, who bested state Rep. Diane Patrick in the GOP primary, raised $7,760, has more than $2,000 on hand and owes $33,000 in loans. Arlington Democrat Cole Ballweg has raised $27,396 this year, has $22,345 in the bank and owes $22,500 in loans.

Tinderholt’s donations include $2,000 from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, $1,000 from the Oncor Texas Senate PAC, $1,000 from Texas Friends of Time Warner Cable and $1,000 from the Independent Bankers Association of Texas PAC.

Ballweg’s donations include $1,500 from the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee, $1,000 from the Greater Arlington Mansfield Democratic Women, $500 from Mid Cities Democrats and $500 from state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas.

Libertarian Robert Harris of Arlington filed a report showing no contributions, no money in the bank and no loans.

House District 95

State Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, received more than $15,000 in contributions and has $201 on hand. Fort Worth Republican Albert G. McDaniel picked up $600 in contributions, has $600 in the bank and owes $750 in loans.

Collier’s donations include $2,500 from CWA-COPE PCC of Fort Worth, $1,000 from the Texas Pharmacy Association and $300 from Hughes Eye Care PLLC of Hurst.

McDaniel’s donations were $500 from Murl Richardson, a retired Fort Worth engineer, and $100 from Sue Hester, a Fort Worth property manager.

House District 96

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington received $1,750 in contributions and has more than $21,000 in the bank. No report was available for Libertarian Quinn Eaker of Kennedale.

House District 97

State Rep. Craig Goldman, R-Fort Worth, picked up $12,500 in contributions and has more than $90,000 on hand. Libertarian Rod Wingo of Fort Worth filed a report showing no contributions, no money in the bank and no loans.

House District 101

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, received more than $26,000 in contributions and has more than $63,000 on hand. No report was available for Libertarian Carl Nulson of Arlington.

State Board of Education

In District 11, Republican Patricia “Pat” Hardy of Fort Worth raised $3,800 and has $4,473.87 in the bank. Democrat Nancy C. Bean of Arlington has raised $1,925 and has $1,603.08 on hand.

Texas land commissioner

Bush, a Fort Worth Republican, has raised nearly $900,000 since February and has more than $2.8 million on hand. Democrat John Cook, a former El Paso mayor, raised nearly $23,000, has less than $500 in the bank and owes $20,150 in loans.

Bush’s donations include $50,000 From Charles C. Butt, CEO of the H-E-B grocery chain; $25,000 from William Becker, president of Peace River Citrus Products in Florida; and $10,000 from the Texas Oil & Gas PAC. He also received $1,000 from Barbara P. Bush of Houston.

The bulk of Cook’s donations came from El Paso, although he received area donations such as $500 from Texas State Building Trades COPE and $59 from the Wise County Democrats.

No report was available for Libertarian Justin Knight of Granbury.

Texas Supreme Court justice, Place 6

Lawrence E. Meyuers of Fort Worth, a longtime justice on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, left the Republican Party last year for the Democratic Party when he announced he was running for the state’s highest civil court.

His campaign report lists no contributions, $441.15 in the bank and $92,386 in outstanding loans.

Republican Jeff Brown of Houston was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Rick Perry last year. On the ballot for the first time seeking the statewide office, he has received more than $262,000 in contributions this year and has around $62,000 on hand.

A few of his donations came from Tarrant County: $5,000 from the BNSF RAIL PAC in Fort Worth, $5,000 from Fort Worth philanthropist Anne Marion and $5,000 from QPAC, a committee of Fort Worth investment banker Geoffrey Raynor.

Libertarian Mark Ash of Houston filed a report showing no contributions, no cash on hand and no loans.

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