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Recently Posted News & Analysis

Election News for July 25

HD18: Huntsville software consultant Garrett Cradduck established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Ernest Bailes (R-Shepherd). Social media activity indicates he may be running as a Tea Party Republican or a Libertarian. However, Cradduck is a former national committeeman for the Constitution Party of Texas and, as recently as May, liked one of the party’s Facebook posts. The Constitution Party does not have guaranteed access to the general election ballot in Texas. Meanwhile, 2016 candidate Wes Hinch confirmed that his recent campaign committee filing was purely administrative.

HD106: Frisco custom golf cart business owner and CoServ electric cooperative board member Clint Bedsole confirmed he would seek the seat if Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) challenges Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) in the Republican primary. We previously reported that Bedsole had formed a campaign committee for the seat.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Dozen Donors Provide 60% of Freedom Caucus Contributions

The 12 members of the Texas House Freedom Caucus and three ideologically similar Republican candidates raised over $1.1M during the first half of the year, accounting for a third of the total of all contributions received by the incumbent members and announced candidates for office.

Five Freedom Caucus members – Reps. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), Mike Lang (R-Granbury), Kyle Biederman (R-Fredericksburg), Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) and Matt Rinaldi (R-Irving) – were among top 10 incumbents in terms of contributions received during the final 12 days of June, the only time during the year’s first six months when they could receive contributions. Reps. Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) and Jeff Leach (R-Plano) were just outside the top 10 but within the top 10 Republican incumbents. All caucus members except Reps. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) and Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) reported at least $25K in contributions.

The remaining caucus members are Reps. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) and Valoree Swanson (R-Spring).

The three ideologically aligned candidates – Thomas McNutt, Mayes Middleton and former Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) – were among the four top non-incumbents seeking House office, and they received more in contributions than all but 12 of the current incumbents.

This year’s performance is a significant upgrade over two years ago.

Subscribers can read the rest of this analysis.

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Our subscribers have access to our complete reports and analyses, including our archives, that cover the gamut from breaking campaign news to thoughtful exploration of the deeper trends in Texas. Links to our latest reports and updates are emailed straight to our subscribers’ inboxes.

Updated Candidate Lists & Campaign Finances

Our subscribers have access to our Crib Sheets: complete, up-to-date and accurate lists of candidates running for Congress, statewide office and the Legislature and more. See their latest campaign finance figures, past election results and other helpful information.


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Leal Considering Primary Challenge of Seliger

SD31: Amarillo restaurateur and former Muleshoe Mayor Victor Leal told the Amarillo Globe-News’s Robert Stein that he is considering challenging Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) in the Republican primary. Leal unsuccessfully sought the 2010 Republican nomination for what was then an open HD87 seat, losing to now-Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), 55%-45%.

Leal raised nearly $240K for that race. His largest contributors included the late Houston homebuilder Bob Perry ($65K), the Texas Restaurant Assoc. PAC ($21K), Fort Worth restaurateur Bobby Cox ($15K), Amarillo businessman Alex Fairly ($5K), San Antonio businessman James Leininger ($5K) and Irving businessman Robert Rowling ($5K).

Leal also received contributions from former Railroad Comm. Victor Carrillo (R), former Rep. Warren Chisum (R-Pampa), former U.S. Rep. Larry Combest (R-Lubbock), Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) and the Empower Texans PAC. Leal said a decision on the race would be made “soon.”

Seliger already has an announced primary opponent in former Midland Mayor Mike Canon. Seliger defeated Canon in the 2014 SD31 primary, 53%-47%.

CD6: Arlington resident Levii Shocklee formed a federal campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Ennis) as a Democrat.

See our 2018 Challengers page for all 205 challengers and open-seat candidates who we confirm have taken a formal step toward running for state and federal office from Texas in 2018.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Election News for July 23

Special Session: The Senate State Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill intended to prevent mail-in ballot fraud. Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would increase penalties for voter fraud committed via mail-in ballots, particularly for individuals convicted of prior or concurrent election fraud offenses or the victim was a voter aged 65 or older. The bill is expected to be debated on the Senate floor this week.

Redistricting: A two-day remedial hearing may be held in late August or early September, according to a filing in the ongoing federal lawsuit over the state’s federal and state House districts. The state and at least most of the plaintiffs’ attorneys indicated they were available during several stretches of weekdays between August 23 and September 8. A week-long trial concluded earlier this month without an indication of when a ruling or other further action might occur. It is generally believed that the judges do not want primaries to be delayed (as occurred in 2012) or voided and re-run (as occurred in 2006) as a result of any court-ordered maps.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Gill v. Whitford, the Wisconsin partisan gerrymandering case, on October 3. Last month, the high court announced it would hear the case, making it the first time it has addressed the issue of partisan gerrymandering in about 15 years. In November, a three-judge federal panel struck down the state Assembly’s districts after finding the maps were “intended to burden the representational rights of Democratic voters … by impeding their ability to translate their votes into legislative seats.” The court ruled that the “discriminatory effect is not explained by the political geography of Wisconsin” and thus “constitutes an unconstitutional political gerrymander.” The ruling does not touch on Senate districts, but they will be changed because each is comprised by three Assembly districts.

Filing Begins: The filing period has begun for offices on the November 7 ballot and runs through August 21.

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

Election News for July 21

Special Session: On Sunday, the Senate State Affairs Committee will hear testimony on a bill intended to prevent mail-in ballot fraud. Senate Bill 5 by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would increase penalties for voter fraud committed via mail-in ballots, particularly for individuals convicted of prior or concurrent election fraud offenses or the victim was a voter aged 65 or older. The bill has 10 Republican co-authors.

COMP: Austin attorney Tim Mahoney established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R) as a Democrat. Mahoney was an Austin Community Coll. trustee from 2008 to 2014 before losing his re-election bid, 54%-46%.

HD66: Plano recent high school graduate Shane Piel established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) as a Democrat. His GoFundMe page has a goal of $400K (He’s currently at $200.).

©2017 Texas Election Source LLC

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Election News for July 20

Special Session: Gov. Greg Abbott formally expanded the special session call to include the 19 items previously included in a draft supplemental call. The Dallas Morning News published an op-ed by Abbott on the subject.

HD37: Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) announced he would seek re-election.

HD46: Austin computer programmer and LGBTQ activist Michael Hendrix established a campaign committee for a potential primary challenge of Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin). Hendrix has participated in candidate forums while he was considering the race.

HD108: Journalist and university adjunct professor Joanna Cattanach formally announced she would challenge Rep. Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) as a Democrat. We previously reported her formation of a campaign committee.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Wilson Called Out and Other Election News for July 19

Updated July 20 to correct HD67 candidate Matt Lagos’s occupation at his request.

GOV: Houston attorney Daniel O’Neil established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Gov. Greg Abbott, likely as a Democrat. Meanwhile, Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne and San Antonio veteran Thomas Wakely formally established their campaign committees. Both had previously announced their candidacies.

Rep. Terry Wilson

Rep. Terry

HD20: In a post on its web site, Empower Texans called out Rep. Terry Wilson (R-Marble Falls) for being “the first lawmaker, Republican or Democrat, to explicitly refuse to accept petitions delivered by Empower Texans.” In February 2016, the group’s PAC gave Wilson a $46K donation toward his successful primary challenge of former Rep. Marcia Farney (R-Georgetown), making it his single largest contributor. Several of its largest donors, including board member Mayes Middleton (now a candidate for HD23), also gave significant donations to his campaign totaling at least $47K ($93K including the PAC’s donation). Combined, this group of donors supplied nearly half of Wilson’s total contributions for the election cycle.

The petition in question called on lawmakers to pass all of the items of Gov. Greg Abbott’s draft supplemental call for the special session that convened yesterday. In a Facebook post this afternoon, Wilson addressed the incident. “I do not simply take an organization’s word as fact that these constituents agreed to allow this organization to send this message on their behalf,” Wilson said. “As with voter fraud, to allow potentially inauthentic and unauthorized communications to be given equal weight as actual, verified, constituent communication only serves to dilute the voice of the district.”

He said he was disappointed the group “felt the need to disregard the respect my staff and I have for the security and verification of our constituent communications.” Wilson said he encourages constituents with concerns or comments on legislation to contact his office directly.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.


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Special Session Fundraising and Candidate News for July 18

Special Session Fundraising: Unlike during a regular session of the Texas Legislature, state officials and lawmakers may accept contributions during a special session. Elected officials who accept a contribution during the reporting period, which began on July 10, must file a Special Session report within 30 days of the end of the special session (See Section 254.0391, Election Code). All contributions reported in this report will also be included in the officials’ January 2018 semiannual report, which is the next regularly scheduled campaign finance report.

HD67: Plano school administrator and 2016 Democratic nominee Scott Coleman announced via Facebook that he was ending his campaign for the 2018 nomination. Coleman said he was moving within Collin Co. but outside the district. He also filed a “Final” campaign finance report.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Campaign Finance Report Highlights, HDs 51-150

HD52: Rep. Larry Gonzales (R-Round Rock) reported having $256K on hand as of June 30, and he raised just under $15K during the last 12 days of June. Potential primary opponent Jeremy Story raised less than $1K.

HD59: Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville) reported having $26K on hand and no contributions. His primary opponent Chris Evans reported just over $11K in contributions, including contributions from Midland businessman Kyle Stallings ($5K), Odessa businessman Dick Saulsbury ($2K) and the campaign of Rep. Jonathan Stickland ($1K).

HD60: Freshman Rep. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) reported having $131K in hand after raising more than $121K, of which $100K came from Cisco businessman Ferris Wilks and his wife JoAnn, who are his constituents.

Rep. Matt Shaheen

Rep. Matt

Rep. Jeff Leach

Rep. Jeff

HD66 and HD67: In anticipation of a potential race for what is widely expected to be an open SD8 seat, Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano) reported having $495K on hand. He received $62K in contributions and loaned his campaign $187K, bringing his total loan balance to $467K. Meanwhile, Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) reported having $261K on hand and $54K in contributions.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Campaign Finance Report Highlights, HDs 1-50

Our first sweep through the July semiannual reports for the House of Representatives will focus on seats we already know are being contested, either in the primary or in the general election. This post has been updated to reflect further information about loans made by Rep. Dawnna Dukes to her campaign accounts.

HD2: Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) has a $35K to $22K advantage in cash on hand over primary challenger Bryan Slaton, and he out-raised Slaton, $30K to $24K, for the period.

Rep. Byron CookHD8: Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) has a narrow lead over primary challenger Thomas McNutt in cash on hand, $257K to $250K, but reported no contributions. Cook has previously reported no contributions just after a legislative session. McNutt reported $321K in contributions, more than triple the amount he raised during the first fundraising period of his 2016 campaign.  McNutt’s largest contributors included Frisco businesswoman JoAnn Wilks ($50K), the Empower Texans PAC ($40K), Dallas investor Darwin Deason ($10K), Frisco businessman Anthony Ewing ($10K), Odessa businessman Dick Saulsbury ($10K), Midland businessman Kyle Stallings ($10K) and Frisco executive James Webb ($10K).

HD15 open: Former Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) reported raising $52K and has the same amount on hand. His largest contributors included the Empower Texans PAC ($25K) and The Woodlands attorney Eric Yollick ($5K).

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

Most Senators Report $1M-plus War Chests

July semiannual campaign reports indicate most senators up for re-election in 2018 have formidable cash on hand totals, but a couple of incumbents could soon feel heat from well-financed opponents.

Sen. John Whitmire

Sen. John

Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), the Dean of the Senate, once again leads all senators with a campaign war chest just shy of $8M. Several other incumbents up for re-election in 2018 reported at least $1M in cash on hand, including Sens. Kel Seliger ($1.75M), Charles Schwertner ($1.6M), Royce West ($1.5M), Kirk Watson ($1.4M), Robert Nichols ($1.3M) and Kelly Hancock ($1.2M).

SD2: Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) reported having $251K on hand and $176K in contributions. His two declared Democratic challengers raised $32K and have just over $10K combined.

SD8: Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) reported $1K in contributions and has $371K on hand. Expecting the seat to be open, Phillip Huffines reported having almost $2.4M on hand and $547K in contributions.

SD10: As we previously reported, Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) reported having $352K on hand and raising $196K. Potential Democratic challenger Beverly Powell has $32K on hand and raised $51K. Allison Campolo, another potential Democratic challenger, raised $8K and has less than $4K on hand.

SD16: Sen. Don Huffines (R-Dallas) reported having $930K on hand and $222K in contributions. Potential Democratic challenger Nathan Johnson reported $65K on hand and $80K in contributions. Joseph Bogen, another potential Democratic challenger, has $21K on hand and raised $32K.

SD30: Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco) reported having $2M on hand, largely the result of a $1.8M loan to his campaign, as he considers challenging Sen. Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls). The incumbent reported having $424K on hand.

SD31: Primary challenger Mike Canon reported having $89K on hand after raising $73K. Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) reported no contributions and has $1.75M on hand.

Statewide Officials Shatter Campaign Finance Records

The seven non-judicial statewide elected officials on the 2018 ballot collectively have more than $72M on hand, nearly triple the amount from the corresponding elected officials in 2010, the last year the slate of statewide officers ran for re-election. Leading the way is Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) record-breaking $40.8M war chest, which is nearly double the amount he had on hand four years ago.

Gov. Greg Abbott

Gov. Greg

Abbott has raised $101.5M since the end of the 2011 legislative session. With a year and a half to go before the end of the 2018 election cycle, Abbott is just $6.3M short of the total Rick Perry raised from 2007 to 2010, his last re-election race, and just $15.3M short of the total Abbott raised from 2011 to 2014, his first race for governor.

Every current non-judicial statewide official on the 2018 ballot has more money on hand today than the corresponding official did in 2010, except for Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who has to be compared to Abbott. Paxton has $5.3M on hand as of June 30, which was $4M less than Abbott’s corresponding 2010 total. Paxton raised just over $1M during the last 12 days of June.

Subscribers can read the rest of this report.

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Jeff Blaylock

Jeff Blaylock


Jeff is a political junkie, longtime public policy wonk and former Texas Legislature staffer who has worked political campaigns in Texas and several other states, ranging from school boards to legislators to governors to referenda. He is a public and government affairs consultant based in Austin, Texas, who offers his keen insights about Lone Star State politics as Texas Election Source.

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