Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) holds key campaign finance advantages over her conservative challenger Susanna Dokupil, but the latter has some hefty endorsers behind her, suggesting her fundraising capability is significant going forward. HD134 is likely to be one of the most expensive state primary races.

Davis narrowly out-raised Dokupil, $163K to $148K, during the last six months of 2017, giving Davis an overall $62K edge in total contributions. Davis out-spent Dokupil, $182K to $27K, for the period, and Davis has a modest $31K advantage in cash on hand. It’s worth noting that Dokupil’s campaign was raising money during just the last two and a half months of 2017.

Democrat Allison Sawyer raised just over $7K for the period, bringing her total contributions for the campaign cycle to $49K. A second Democratic candidate, Lloyd Oliver, thought by some to be a Republican stalking horse to keep moderate voters in the Democratic primary, reported no contributions.

None of the candidates reported a loan balance.

Davis won the 2016 primary, 59%-41%, over Houston accountant and former Southside Place council member David Palmer. The challenger had some support from movement conservative groups longing to oust Davis, but he did not receive the significant sums of money that can accompany those endorsements. During the last month of the primary campaign, Empower Texans PAC gave Palmer just $5K, last among 18 challengers the group contributed to during that period. Davis out-raised Palmer, $409K to $31K.

Davis is 19% ahead of her fundraising pace of 2016, but Dokupil has raised 30 times what Palmer had raised by this point in his campaign. Likewise, Sawyer raised 12 times the amount collected by the eventual Democratic nominee as of this same point in time.

Houston ($216K) was the single largest geographic source of contributions, providing 53% of all funds raised so far. Austin-based donors contributed $70K (17%).

Davis has received nearly $50K more than Dokupil from zip codes located wholly or partially within HD134. Significantly, Davis received 198 contributions from individuals in those zip codes, well ahead of Dokupil’s 38. Sawyer has raised nearly as much ($34K) from district zip codes as Dokupil ($40K) and has significantly more contributions from individuals (136).

In these respects, HD134 is the flip of HD114, where challengers hold key campaign finance advantages and have more contributions from individuals than the incumbent, Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas).

Dokupil’s three largest donors to date – Texas Right to Life PAC ($35K), Empower Texans PAC ($10K) and Leonard Leo ($10K) – comprised 37% of her total contributions. Davis’s three largest donors – Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC ($15K), Nancy Kinder ($10K) and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC ($8K) – accounted for 15% of her total contributions.

Rep. Davis

Rep. Sarah Davis

Serving fourth term

Largest Contributors

$15,000 ­– Texas Assoc. of Realtors TREPAC

$10,000 – Nancy Kinder

$7,500 – Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC

$6,700 – Susan Rutherford

$5,000 – AT&T Texas PAC

$4,300 – Associated Republicans of Texas

$3,500 – Univ. of Houston PAC

$3,000 – Lisa Hollier, Texas Apartment Assoc. PAC, Texas Auto Dealers Assoc. PAC, USAA PAC

$2,500 – Home Therapy Advocates for Kids PAC, Landry’s PAC, Kendall Miller, Kim Monday, NuStar PAC, Arthur Rogers, Gary Stankowski, Texas Homecare and Hospice PAC

$2,250 – Greater Home Builders Assoc. HOME PAC


Susanna Dokupil

Attorney, media consultant
Former Harris Co. Republican Party vice chair

Largest Contributors

$35,000 – Texas Right to Life PAC

$10,000 – Empower Texans PAC, Leonard Leo

$5,500 – Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park)

$5,250 – Charles Blain

$5,000 ­– Neil Corkery, Holly Frost, Windi Grimes, John O’Neill, Darlene Pendery, Kyle Stallings, Kathaleen Wall

$2,500 – Hexagon Partners Ltd., Texans for Vaccine Choice PAC


Allison Sawyer

Oil & gas safety executive

Largest Contributors

$6,500 – Kathleen Perley

$5,968 – John Dennis

$5,000 – Norm Szydlowski

$3,532 – Samina Farid

$2,700 – Barbara Burger, Janet Clark

$2,500 – Edward Allen

Sawyer’s three largest donors – Kathleen Perley ($7K), John Dennis ($6K) and Norm Szydlowski ($5K) – represented 36% of her total contributions to date.

Dokupil received more than $5K from Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) and $1K from Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford). She also received $5K from Kathaleen Wall, who is running for open CD2, and from Windi Grimes, a frequent donor to Empower Texans-backed candidates. Grimes is also Dokupil’s campaign treasurer.

Expect movement conservative groups and their donors to invest in this race. It remains to be seen whether Gov. Greg Abbott’s (R) endorsement will result in significant financial backing from his donor base. Expect Davis to respond in kind. In 2016, she raised nearly as much during the primary campaign’s final month ($203K) as she had for the election cycle up to that point ($206K).

The candidates’ next campaign finance reports are due February 5.

©2018 Texas Election Source LLC