State Politics

Nearly $1.5 million sent to SD 10 race from West Texas oilfields, unions & musicians

A Texas Senate debate goes off the rails: Konni Burton, Beverly Powell on taxes

In a debate on WFAA/Channel 8, Texas state Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) surprises challenger Beverly Powell, a Fort Worth Democrat, over past tax bills from one of Powell's businesses.
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In a debate on WFAA/Channel 8, Texas state Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) surprises challenger Beverly Powell, a Fort Worth Democrat, over past tax bills from one of Powell's businesses.

The battle for Texas Senate District 10 has become one of the most costly races in the state.

In the past three months, $1.5 million has flowed into the fierce battle for this seat that is neither solidly Republican nor Democratic and has swung between the two parties for years

“This is the showcase Senate race for the entire state,” said Jim Riddlsperger, a political science professor at TCU. “This is probably a Republican leaning district, but Wendy Davis (a Democrat) did win it six years ago.

“Obviously both liberal PACs (political action committees) and conservative PACs are aware of these numbers and that’s why they are pouring money into the race.”

Incumbent state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, raised more than $1 million, twice the amount raised by Democratic challenger Beverly Powell, who drew nearly $440,000.

But heading into the final weeks of the election, the two have similar amounts of cash on hand — $488,970 for Burton and $447,014 for Powell, according to state campaign finance reports that show donations received between July 1 and Sept. 27.

“It will be interesting to see how this one turns out,” Riddlesperger said.

Early voting for the Nov. 6 mid-term election runs from Oct. 22-Nov. 2.

Davis of Fort Worth represented the district from 2009 to 2015, after defeating incumbent Republican Kim Brimer, but Democrats lost the seat in 2014 to Burton.

Republican dollars

Burton received more than $1 million, spent $572,283 and had $488,970 in cash on hand, according to the 30-day out reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. She also has $240,000 in outstanding loans.

She logged $250,000 in direct and in-kind donations from Empower Texans, a conservative group that has worked for years to move the Legislature to the right, and another $250,000 from Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, a part of Empower Texans.

She also received $300,000 in in-kind contributions from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC; $40,000 from the Texas Association of Realtors PAC; $10,000 from Dallas hotel magnate Monty Bennett; and $5,000 from the Texas Oil & Gas Association PAC.

She also received $3,000 from the Fort Worth Republican Women’s group, $250 from Tarrant County Commissioner Gary Fickes’s campaign; and more than $60 from Tarrant County Republican Party Chair Darl Easton.

Democratic donations

Meanwhile, Powell raised $439,755, spent $94,777 and had $447,014 in cash on hand, the latest reports show. She also has $20,000 in outstanding loans.

She said in a statement that she “substantially outraised Konni Burton in Tarrant County by over a 4-to-1 margin and reported nearly 5 times the number of Tarrant County donations.”

She picked up $45,000 from Annie’s List, a group that works to elect progressive women in Texas; $25,000 from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Washington DC; and $25,000 from the Lone Star Project.

She also received $10,000 from musician Don Henley, who co-founded the Eagles and lives in Dallas, and $2,500 from Jeff Davis, the ex-husband of Wendy Davis and an attorney and chairman with Republic Title of Texas, Inc.

Powell also received $3,000 from the Burleson Firefighters Association, $2,500 from Plumbers Local Union No. 68, $5,000 from the Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats and $5,000 from the Texas State Teachers Association.

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley
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