Posts Tagged ‘US House’

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. Rep. Brady wants to eliminate federal funding for NPR, PBS

Posted on: February 14th, 2011 by Mary Tuma 6 Comments

Image by: Matt MahurinAs part of the $32 billion GOP House majority budget plan released late last week, programs such as job training, the Environmental Protection Agency and public broadcasting face the chopping block, as reported by our sister publication the Colorado Independent. While public interest groups and newspaper editorials around the country decry the $400 million-plus in slashes to local public radio and television stations, one Texas congressman stands in firm support of eliminating funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the more-than-four-decades-old government-created nonprofit that allocates money to NPR and PBS. (more…)

House Dems revolt, reject unemployment compromise

Posted on: December 9th, 2010 by Patrick Caldwell No Comments

In an astonishing development, the Democratic caucus in the U.S. House voted this afternoon to reject the compromise deal negotiated between President Obama and the Republican leadership to extend both federal unemployment benefits and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

The House Democratic Caucus voted to oppose President Barack Obama’s tax plan, throwing into flux weeks of negotiations on an issue that has turned many congressional Democrats against the White House.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio offered a resolution in a closed Democratic caucus meeting Thursday morning that said Democrats would oppose the bill in its current form. It is a nonbinding measure but illustrates Democratic displeasure with the bill that extends upper-income tax cuts and offers what they consider a generous deal to Republicans on the estate tax.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that she will stand by her caucus and will not bring the bill to the floor for a vote until there are changes made. If the bill were to come up for a vote it would likely pass with a majority of Republicans and a minority of Democrats voting for it.

It could be back to square one for the White House, which will delay the restart of federal unemployment benefits as well as delay work on other legislative priorities.

Ron Paul one of only four House Republicans to request earmarks for 2011 budget (UPDATED)

Posted on: December 8th, 2010 by Patrick Caldwell 44 Comments

UPDATE: The original version of this article incorrectly listed earmarks from Fiscal Year 2010 as requests in Fiscal Year 2011. TAI drew those numbers from the Taxpayers for Common Sense which listed the earmarks from the wrong year. The earmark totals in the updated version have been drawn from Paul’s website, where each individual request from both 2010 and 2011 may be viewed. We apologize for the the error.

U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was one of only four House Republicans to break rank from the party and request earmarks despite a Republican Conference earmark moratorium. Paul sent 41 earmark requests totaling $157,093,544 for the 2011 Fiscal Year. His largest single request was $19,500,000 for a naval training ship at the Texas Maritime Academy in Galveston, followed by a $18,126,000 to provide maintenance on the Matagorda Ship Channel.

For Fiscal Year 2010, Paul requested 54 total earmarks, adding up to $398,460,640 in pork that the former presidential candidate sought to bring home to his district. These requests were made prior to the House Republican Conference’s voluntary ban on filing earmarks.

Paul’s largest request in 2010 was $51.5 million in federal money to be spent on “Reconstruction of Bluewater Highway Hurricane Evacuation Route Between Brazoria and Galveston Counties in Texas.” He requested another $50 million to be directed to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and $46 million for deepening the Texas City channel. The majority of Paul’s requests were for projects related to various ports and channels, though other sectors of his district also received attention, such as $20 million for a hospital in Chambers County. Even smaller projects received attention from the libertarian representative, such as $2.5 million requested “to redevelop historic downtown area and to purchase trash cans, bike racks and decorative street lighting” in Baytown.

While Paul requested these earmarks, he can still claim to have voted against the spending. Here’s how he defended his earmarking habit when he was challenged during a Fox News interview in 2009:

I think you’re missing the whole point. I have never voted for an earmark. I voted against all appropriation bills. So, this whole thing about earmarks is totally misunderstood.

Earmarks is the responsibility of the Congress. We should earmark even more. We should earmark every penny. So, that’s the principle that we have to follow and the — and the responsibility of the Congress. The whole idea that you vote against an earmark, you don’t save a penny. That just goes to the administration and they get to allocate the funds.

Taxpayers for Common Sense released a database Tuesday of all the earmarks requested by members of Congress for Fiscal Year 2011. Over $130 billion was requested across 39,294 earmarks. With most House Republicans abstaining from the process, the majority of those requests came from Congressional Democrats. House Democrats requested over $51 billion, outpaced by Senate Democrats with just under $55 billion. On the other hand Senate Republicans only asked for $22 billion, with the four House Republicans accounting for a little over $1 billion in earmark requests. Louisiana Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu had the highest request total for the year at around $4.5 billion.

From 2008-2010, the average Texas congressman brought back $74 million in earmarks, according to an analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as the Texas Independent previously reported. In those three years, Paul sponsored/co-sponsored 45 successful earmarks totaling nearly $120 million. That was the sixth-greatest total among U.S. House members from Texas.

Of the five U.S. House members who brought home more total earmarked money than Paul, three were defeated in the November elections — Democratic U.S. Reps. Chet Edwards, Solomon Ortiz and Ciro Rodriguez (who all have large military installations in or near their districts.)