Posts Tagged ‘David Dewhurst’

Millions in campaign cash being raised for Republican primary fights in Texas

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by Teddy Wilson 2 Comments

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Thomas Hawk, Rob Shenk)

As political campaigns in Texas shift into high gear after a court ruling finally set the date of the Texas primaries, candidates will continue to raise millions of dollars in campaign cash to add to the millions that have already been raised. However, much of the campaign cash is going into campaigns that will face either little or no opposition on the ballot in November.

According to an analysis of data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, as of January 31 Texas candidates for house and senate have raised a total of $40.3 million for the 2012 election cycle. During the entire 2010 election cycle Texas candidates raised $47.2 million, and the 2008 election cycle saw $73.7 million raised by Texas candidates. With outside expenditure groups also spending money on the campaigns, millions more will be raised and spent in Texas elections.

The vast majority of the campaign cash raised so far has gone to Republican candidates, as they have out-raised their Democratic counterparts by more than $28.4 million. In the senate campaign, more than $16 million has already been raised by four Republican primary candidates. In the house campaigns, Republicans have raised $18 million compared to $5.9 million raised by Democrats.

The senate Republican primary campaign has so far been among the most expensive campaigns in the nation. The $19.5 million raised so far in the senate campaign in Texas is second only to the $22.7 million raised in the senate campaign in Massachusetts. The $8.6 million already spent in Texas is also second to the $10.6 million spent in Massachusetts.

Both Republican senate candidate Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert are among the top ten candidates nationally in campaign funds raised. Each has raised $6 million, while Tea Party favorite former Texas Solicitor Gen. Ted Cruz has raised nearly $4 million.

While the campaign for the senate seat in Texas will essentially be over after the Republican primary, the Massachusetts campaign between Republican Senator Scott Brown and likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren will continue into November.

Mark Jones, professor and chair of the political science department at Rice University, told the Texas Independent fundraising is important in two respects for the Republican primary, where there are two distinct electoral contests taking place.

“Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst clearly has the personal wealth and donor support to allow him to outspend all of his opponents combined by a good margin,” said Jones. “Dewhurst will use his copious funds in an attempt to win the primary in the first round, obviating the need to face one of his rivals, Ted Cruz in particular, in a low turnout runoff in the dead of summer.”

Jones says that while Dewhurst will clearly have more than enough funds to be on television statewide during the crucial final four to six weeks of the primary campaign as well as to engage in other forms of contact with primary voters such as direct mail, Ted Cruz, Craig James, and Tom Leppert are in a battle to finish second on May 29, while simultaneously forcing Dewhurst into a runoff.

“At this stage fundraising is crucial for them, not compared to Dewhurst, but compared to each other,” said Jones. “While none will have the resources to match Dewhurst’s presence on television, their goal is to raise enough money to support targeted television buys, direct mail campaigns, and conduct get out the vote drives focused on their core supporters.”

Among the three candidates challenging Dewhurst, Leppert may well be able to match Dewhurst’s ability to self finance a campaign. Leppert’s $3.1 million of self financing so far is more than $1 million more than Dewhurst has self financed. Leppert and Dewhurst are third and fourth nationally in self financing.

There is no parallel among the campaigns for the house in Texas, as the candidates who are raising the most campaign funds have either token or no opposition at all. The $1.6 million raised by Rep. Jeb Hensarling (TX-5) is the most of any house candidate in Texas, and he has no primary opponent and will face a Democrat in November who has not reported any campaign fundraising. Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17) and Rep. Lamar Smith (TX-21) have raised $1 million and $972,000, but neither candidate faces a primary or general election opponent.

“The best way to ensure that a candidate has no primary or general election opposition is to have such a large campaign war chest that all serious challengers consider any attempt to defeat you to be futile,” said Jones. “PACS and wealthy donors tend to give to the most influential members of congress, who also happen to normally reside in safe Republican or Democratic districts and are normally well respected in their party.”

It isn’t unexpected, says Jones, that incumbent members of congress raise such significant amounts of campaign funds with little or no opposition. “It is unsurprising that representatives such as Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Republican Conference, and Pete Sessions, chairman of the NRCC, are among the top fundraisers in spite of the fact that both will be re-elected regardless of whether they spend five thousand or five million on their reelection campaigns.” Session has raised $932,000 and is not facing a primary or general election opponent.

Because of the uncompetitive nature of the general election campaigns in Texas, Jones says that the campaign cash is likely to have more of an impact in a select number of primaries than in the November election. “Of the 36 Texas seats, 33 are either safe Republican or safe Democrat, and only one, District 23, falls into the category of being truly competitive,” said Jones. “As a result, fundraising will only have a significant impact on the outcome of at most 3 of 36 seats in November.”

With the primary date finally set, it appears that the most heated campaign battles for congress in Texas will be waged in the spring rather than the fall. “In the May primaries, there are approximately a half dozen races on both sides of the aisle where fundraising will play a major role in determining which Republican or Democrat will be the party’s nominee in the fall,” said Jones. “In most cases the races are for safe Republican or Democratic seats, signifying that a victory in the primary virtually ensures victory in the Fall.”

U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz benefits from outside contributions and expenditure groups

Posted on: February 3rd, 2012 by Teddy Wilson No Comments

Ted Cruz speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

When Texas voters will get to make their choice in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate is still undecided, but the candidates and outside groups have raised and spent millions of dollars during the wait. Ted Cruz, the former solicitor general of Texas, trails by 18 points in the latest poll, behind Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. However, Cruz may be gaining momentum with the help of contributions from outside the state, and from outside expenditure groups spending on behalf of Cruz. (more…)

Texas US Senate candidates spar in first debate, aim criticism at Obama, frontrunner Dewhurst

Posted on: January 13th, 2012 by Teddy Wilson 1 Comment

While there wasn’t much variation in their views on the issues, there was sharp contrast in their presentations and tone when Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate took to the debate stage Thursday night. The debate boiled down to each presenting their case for why they are the most conservative. During the debate, which was sponsored by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Empower Texans, moderators asked the candidates a variety of questions ranging from national security to economic policy. Some candidates criticized the frontrunner, and everyone criticized the Obama Administration. (more…)

Senate hopeful, former WaMu board member Leppert funding anti-Occupy petition drive

Posted on: October 14th, 2011 by Patrick Michels 3 Comments

If you’ve been curious about U.S. Senate candidate and former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert’s take on the Occupy Wall Street movement, well, wonder no more. Friday afternoon, Leppert unveiled his campaign’s effort to steer the national discourse, with (more…)

Dewhurst splits with Perry on in-state tuition for children of undocumented immigrants

Posted on: September 27th, 2011 by Patrick Michels 1 Comment

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is reeling after a rough debate in Orlando, Fla., and is still taking heat for defending the law he signed 10 years ago, granting in-state tuition at Texas’ public universities to children of undocumented immigrants.

Today, Texas’ Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst piled onto the criticism of the 2001 law in an interview with Dallas TV station WFAA:

“If we’re not going to give fellow Americans who live in Louisiana or Oklahoma or New Mexico the ability to come into Texas and have in-state tuition and save, then is it fair to give that break to people who are not citizens here?” he said. “So, I would not have signed that law.”

WFAA’s Brad Watson points out that Dewhurst was elected in 2002, a year after Texas passed the bill authored by former state Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston), who left the Texas Legislature to mount an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate.

Dewhurst is in a big race of his own now — the front-runner in a field vying to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison — and breaking with Perry over the in-state tuition law can only help him among a tea party movement that’s made him something of a punching bag so far — for passing up appearances at senate candidate forums, and for failing to push through tighter immigration measures in this year’s legislative session.

The law, a precursor to the proposed federal Dream Act, has met a slew of challenges in Texas over the last year, including a lawsuit in Houston and a resolution from the Texas A&M University student senate — as the Texas Independent reported in 2010 — and bills in the Texas Legislature to roll back the 2001 law.

As the Austin American Statesman’s Jason Embry points out this morning, Dewhurst may not be supporting the law today, but if he was interested in taking a strong stand against it last session, he sure had the chance:

It’s worth noting that Sen. Brian Birdwell filed a bill to repeal that in-state tuition law just this year in the Senate, where Dewhurst is the presiding office. The bill, Senate Bill 1631, was referred to the Higher Education Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini. It was heard but never emerged from that committee.

U.S. Rep. McCaul may still challenge Dewhurst, Cruz for Texas Senate seat

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 by Patrick Michels No Comments

A week after Roll Call named him the richest man in Congress, U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin, may be looking to make a run for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the upper chamber, according to reports from the Austin American-Statesman and the Texas Tribune.

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin

“McCaul’s team has long hinted that he was interested in the Senate seat but cautioned that he was unlikely to run in the event that Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst got in the race,” the Statesman reported.

Dewhurst did, indeed, jump into the race last month, making him the front-runner ahead of tea party favorite Ted Cruz, a former Texas Solicitor General.

Both quoted GOP sources close to McCaul saying he’s still considering jumping into the race for the Senate seat, though he hasn’t decided for sure. According to the Statesman:

Another source close to McCaul, however, cautioned that he is taking no concrete steps to run and is unlikely to do so.

In a statement released by his office, McCaul stopped well short of denying his interest in the race.

“My goal remains to ensure that the most qualified person represents Texas in the United States Senate,” McCaul said.

While Cruz has been scooping up endorsements and campaign contributions, both Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert have the personal wealth to self-finance a major campaign.

The Dallas native McCaul would be able to do the same. Roll Call put his personal worth at $294 million, at least — a huge increase thanks to transfer from his wife Linda McCaul, whose father is Clear Channel Communications CEO and founder Lowry Mays.

By Tuesday night, though, Roll Call’s Shira Toeplitz let some of the air out of all that speculation, quoting “a Republican source close to McCaul” who said unlikely he’d join the race:

“He has taken no concrete steps towards a campaign for U.S. Senate,” the source said. “To my knowledge, he is not planning to take any steps towards a campaign for U.S. Senate.”

Texas headlines: Dewhurst jumps in Senate race, Cruz lines up support

Posted on: July 20th, 2011 by Patrick Michels No Comments

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst finally announced his entry into the race to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison last night, in a YouTube video promising a “straightforward, unapologetically conservative” campaign, as the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The video, in which Dewhurst narrates footage of out-of-work Americans paying bills and cowboys chasing livestock, recounts Dewhurst’s Air Force and CIA career, and says 2012 represents “the opportunity to literally pull America back form the brink.”

Dewhurst becomes the immediate favorite now that he’s entered the race, though former solicitor general Ted Cruz has been using his head start in the race to rally support from major conservative groups.

Cruz, a tea party-backed candidate who’s got some seeing comparisons to Marco Rubio’s upset U.S. Senate win in 2008, tacked on an endorsement from Sen. Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund earlier this week, a group that also endorsed Rubio.

“An establishment candidate with deep pockets will enter this race soon so it’s even more important now for freedom-loving Americans to unite behind Ted Cruz,” DeMint said in his announcement, which follows endorsements from FreedomWorks PAC, the Club for Growth PAC and a George Will op-ed calling Cruz “as good as it gets.”

As the Texas Tribune pointed out this morning, Cruz also just released a new campaign ad to YouTube, touting George P. Bush’s endorsement that Cruz represents “the future of the Republican Party,” over sweeping music and footage of galloping horses.

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, meanwhile, is taking aim squarely at Dewhurst, whohe told Politico yesterday represents “the tougher challenge.” Leppert’s got $3.4 million in his campaign coffers, but much of that money coming from his own bank account.

By delaying his entry into the race, Dewhurst won’t have to report his campaign contributions until next quarter, but he’s rich enough to match or outspend Leppert.

More headlines:

Texas on the Potomac: Perry Watch: Rick Perry meets with “neo-con” foreign policy experts
The National Journal reported Perry met with top national-security experts Doug Feith and William Luti this week. National pundits are punditizing that the significance of the consultations is that these are two of the leading “neo-conservative” thinkers in America.

Associtated Press: Trouble for Perry with tea parties?
Tea party groups from New Hampshire to Texas are collaborating to criticize Perry’s record on immigration, public health and spending and his former affiliation with the Democratic Party.

MSNBC: NBC/WSJ poll: Bachmann surges to 2nd place in ’12 GOP field
In the GOP trial heat, Romney and Bachmann are followed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry (who hasn’t yet decided on a presidential run) at 11 percent, Texas Congressman Ron Paul at 9 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 8 percent.

The Right Side of Austin: Empower Texans Responds to Twitter Account Suspension
Without warning or notification, social media mini-blog site Twitter simultaneously “suspended” the main Empower Texans feed along with the personal accounts of all staff. It is unsettling, to say the least, given the way the entity sells itself as a great equalizer for personal and public discourse.

At Legislature’s close, fiscal conservatives lukewarm on Texas lawmakers’ performance

Posted on: June 29th, 2011 by Patrick Michels No Comments

Hours before the Texas Legislature adjourned today, the conservative group Empower Texans released its grades for lawmakers in its Fiscal Responsibility Index, delivering an “F” to nine Republicans, and every Democrat in both chambers.

The group, headed by the influential lobbyist Michael Quinn Sullivan, has been tweeting statistical breakdowns all day, but is generally unenthused by Republican efforts in Austin this year, calling the party “a super-majority bereft of the ‘super.’”

Though the Legislature faced a hefty budget shortfall and passed $15 billion in cuts, the group said lawmakers leaned too heavily on “reactive deal-making,” and “did little to re-work a system bent on expanding government.”

In a scorecard that will help guide some fiscal conservatives in upcoming primary races, Empower Texans put the blame on leaders in both the House and Senate, including House Speaker Joe Straus, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and the committee chairmen they appointed:

Mr. Straus, primarily, must explain why with a super-majority in the House, so few fiscal reforms were even attempted by his leadership team. He alone can explain why only perfunctory hearings were held on fundamental reforms conservatives — and Republicans — have long demanded.

The grades lawmakers on how well their votes meshed with the group’s stance on dozens of measures, from voter ID to spending money from the state’s Rainy Day Fund. The group was most impressed with 28 House members and three state senators, Brian Birdwell, Joan Huffman and Dan Patrick, who all earned either an “A+” or “A.”