Posts Tagged ‘Tom Leppert’

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…)

Controversial Perry backer Jeffress has closer ties to U.S. Senate candidate Leppert

Posted on: October 21st, 2011 by Mary Tuma No Comments

A controversial Texas pastor who recently endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry in his run for the presidency, has also championed former Dallas mayor Tom Leppert’s bid for the U.S. Senate.

As the American Independent reported, Robert Jeffress, a senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Dallas, got behind the Perry presidency at the Values Voter Summit last week, for his anti-abortion legislation and “strong commitment to biblical values,” igniting backlash and censure, particularly for his comments characterizing Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith as a “cult.”

Jeffress’ endorsement of Perry put the presidential hopeful in the hot seat, as he faced calls to denounce the pastor’s remarks. Jeffress has a record of condemning Catholicism, asserting that Mormons, Muslims, Jews and gays are destined for hell, and saying gays are promiscuous and manipulative, according to Right Wing Watch. He has also sought to ban books about gay parents and has suggested Islam is an “evil” and “violent” religion that “promotes pedophilia,” according to Media Matters for America.

On the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 late last month, Jeffress took the opportunity to deliver a doomsday sermon”>proclaiming that “America’s demise is inevitable” — a fate that he said could at least be slowed by spreading Christianity. Jeffress told TAI he stands by his words, saying, “I believe America’s days are numbered, because the world’s days are numbered.” But, he cautioned, America can delay its inevitable collapse by following Christ’s teachings.

“It could be another hundred years,” he said.

The Perry endorsement prompted the watchdog group Americans United for Church and State to call on the IRS to investigate whether or not Jeffress violated federal tax law with a video endorsement posted on the church Web site.

While Jeffress’ comments riled up more complaints about Perry’s religious ties, little criticism has been sent Leppert’s way, as he vies for the next-biggest prize Texans are chasing in 2012. Leppert’s ties to Jeffress are much closer, and date farther back, than Perry’s.

Months ago, Jeffress threw his support behind Leppert at the aptly named “Pastors for Leppert,”, where he’s quoted as saying:

“I am personally and enthusiastically supporting Tom Leppert for the office of United States Senator from Texas. At this critical juncture in our nation’s history, it is imperative that we have leaders who possess tested leadership skills and an unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ. Tom Leppert has both. As the former CEO of Turner Construction Company, Tom understands the importance of sound fiscal policy. During the past four years as mayor of the city of Dallas, Tom demonstrated his ability to bring together warring factions to accomplish great things for our city. As Tom’s pastor, I know of his deep faith in Jesus Christ. His first act as mayor was to reinstate prayer at our city council meetings.”

“Never has the need been greater for competent and godly leadership in Washington D.C. I encourage you to join me in supporting Tom Leppert for United States Senator from Texas.”

Jeffress is not only backing Leppert’s senate bid, but has, for years, been Leppert’s pastor at First Baptist Dallas. Leppert helped Jeffress preside over a ceremonial demolition of the First Baptist complex, on the way to a $115 million makeover, the Dallas Observer reported.

In light of Jeffress’ anti-gay rhetoric and the church’s anti-gay history, Leppert’s association with the pastor drew criticism from Dallas’ LGBT community in 2009, when he was mayor of the city. The former mayor tasked his openly gay chief of staff with passing along his response to the complaints:

“During my time as Mayor I have made a point of reaching out to and including all communities in our diverse City and I am very proud of my record. Where my family attends church is a personal matter and one that is entered into prayerfully. My tenure as Mayor should be judged by MY actions, the tone that I have set for the City and a sincere concern for those less fortunate. I will always strive to serve with a humble heart.”

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…)

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.

GOP U.S. Senate candidates address tea partiers in Houston

Posted on: June 24th, 2011 by Mary Tuma No Comments

In the first of a series of forums hosted by tea partiers across Texas, six U.S. GOP Senate candidates vying to win the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Kay Bailey Hutchison fielded questions – ranging from entitlement reform to whether or not a mosque should be built at Ground Zero –from a panel of conservative activists Thursday evening. (more…)