The votes won’t come until next year, but North Texans are already busy weighing in on the 2016 race for the White House.
They, like others nationwide, are voicing support for candidates the only way they know how — with their pocketbooks.
Texas donors, including scores from Tarrant County, have sent over $11.5 million to more than a dozen candidates. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas drew the most for Republicans, at $5.7 million, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the way for Democrats, at $2 million.
And political observers say this is just the beginning.
“The gifts until now are seed money,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at TCU. “They are just trying to get their ‘favorite sons’ into a position where they can take advantage of opportunity should it arise.
“Serious money will begin to pour into candidates who look as if they are viable,” he said. “This will be a very expensive campaign, but the contributions so far are only small pittances. Big money will come when there is ‘mist clearing’ and there are only two or three serious candidates for the nomination.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the only other candidate to join Cruz and Clinton in Texas’ $1 million club, picking up $1.1 million during the Federal Election Commission’s second fundraising quarter.
“Bush and Cruz are the principal beneficiaries of Texas donations to date as a result of both their robust political roots and networks in the state, as well as their very strong appeal to distinct types of donors: Bush to establishment conservatives and Cruz to movement conservatives,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
Former Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, topped the half-million-dollar mark, picking up $626,024 and $623,887, respectively.
“Perry’s donations are tending to come mostly from Perry loyalists, who while not believing he has a realistic prospect of victory, out of personal and/or political loyalty feel an obligation to support his presidential bid,” Jones said.
Here’s a look at some of the local donations through the most recent reporting period, from April through June. Donors can give $2,700 per candidate for the primary election. The next reports won’t be out until mid-October.
Ted Cruz: Texas’ junior senator picked up more than 8,600 donations statewide. Notable local donations included $7,000 from members of Fort Worth’s Moncrief oil family, W.A. Moncrief Jr., C.B. Moncrief and Gloria Moncrief Holmsten; $2,700 from former Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks of Dallas; and $2,500 from Ken Hill Sr., founder of National Health Systems.
Hillary Clinton: The former first lady and senator has a support system in Tarrant County left over from her 2008 presidential bid. She picked up 2,169 Texas donations, including $2,700 from Houston attorney Amber Mostyn, who was born and raised in Fort Worth; $2,700 from Fort Worth attorney Jason Smith; and $2,700 from Fort Worth attorney Dwain Dent.
Jeb Bush: The Texas-born Republican — son of former President George H.W. Bush and brother of former President George W. Bush — received more than 550 Texas donations, including $2,700 from Fort Worth’s Kit Moncrief, $2,700 from Fort Worth’s Mercedes Bass, $2,700 from Charlie Moncrief and $2,700 from Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
Rick Perry: The second-time GOP presidential candidate landed 405 donations from Texans, including $1,000 from Mercedes Bass; $500 from state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington; $250 from Tarrant County Constable Clint Burgess of Mansfield; and $2,700 from San Antonio car dealer Red McCombs.
Marco Rubio: The senator garnered 1,091 Texas donations, including $2,000 from Richard Moncrief of Fort Worth, $2,700 from Fort Worth attorney Dee Kelly Jr. and $2,700 from Hicks.
Rand Paul: The Texas-raised son of former congressman and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul received 910 donations from Texas, including $1,000 from state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, and $2,700 from Bruce Ferguson, a Lockheed Martin engineer.
Ben Carson: The Detroit-born Republican neurosurgeon and author landed 1,872 donations from Texans, including $1,000 from Malcolm Louden of Fort Worth’s Walsh Holdings and $100 from Stephen Seleny, headmaster emeritus of the Trinity Valley School.
Mike Huckabee: The Republican former Arkansas governor, a Fort Worth-trained minister turned politician, picked up 189 donations from Texas, a few of which came from Tarrant County. His donors include state Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, who contributed $2,700.
Rick Santorum: The former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, who ran for the GOP nomination in 2012, has been a frequent visitor to Texas, where he received 116 donations. But only a few were from Tarrant County, including $1,100 from Julie McCarty of Grapevine, president of the NE Tarrant Tea Party.
Bernie Sanders: The Vermont senator — an independent in Congress who is running as a Democrat for president — has made several campaign visits to Texas and picked up 517 donations. Three-fourths of those were for $200 or less, and nine of those small donations came from Tarrant County.
Carly Fiorina: The Austin-born former Hewlett-Packard CEO, a Republican who ran for Senate in California in 2010, landed 164 donations from Texas. Ten of those were from Tarrant County, all from Daniel Moughon, who is self-employed and donated $7 to $100 each time. Former state Comptroller Susan Combs of Austin sent in $1,000.
Lindsey Graham: The Republican senator from South Carolina received 13 donations from Texas, including one from Tarrant County — $1,000 from Fort Worth’s Jill Busch, who is in real estate.
Martin O’Malley: The Democratic former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor received 13 donations from Texas, none from Tarrant County. He did receive $2,700 each from Russell and Dorothy Budd of Dallas, well-known Democratic Party donors.
Bobby Jindal: The Republican governor of Louisiana picked up 15 donations totaling more than $20,000 from Texas. None were from Tarrant County.
George Pataki: The Republican attorney and former New York governor received four donations from Texas totaling $1,750. Two were from Dallas, one from Houston and one from Rockport.
‘Most important prize’
Texas is one of the top places that presidential candidates — particularly Republicans — look to for funding.
And that’s a good reason many of them will likely make trips here before next year’s primary.
“Tarrant County can expect visits from the GOP presidential candidates, both to raise money as well as campaign as they gear up for the pivotal March 1 Texas primary,” Jones said.
“In particular, it is likely that all of the major candidates still standing during the latter half of February will make at least one visit to Tarrant County immediately prior to the state’s March 1 primary, which will be the marquee event on that date,” he said. “Texas is far and away the most important prize.”
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610
Presidential money matters
Texans have donated more than $11.5 million to a wide field of candidates. A number of those donations came from Tarrant County. Here’s a look at what the candidates raised in Texas, according to the most recent federal campaign finance reports.
Raised in Texas
Ted Cruz (R)
Hillary Clinton (D)
Jeb Bush (R)
Rick Perry (R)
Marco Rubio (R)
Rand Paul (R)
Ben Carson (R)
Mike Huckabee (R)
Rick Santorum (R)
Bernie Sanders (D)
Carly Fiorina (R)
Lindsey Graham (R)
Martin O’Malley (D)
Bobby Jindal (R)
George Pataki (R)
Source: Federal Election Commission