Fifteen candidates are vying to succeed former Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), and their 8-day-out campaign finance reports show a distinct first tier, at least in terms of resources. Candidates were required to file their 8-day-out reports, disclosing contributions received and expenditures made between September 27 and October 26.
Four candidates raised at least $33K during the period, and no other who filed a report raised more than $8K. The fundraising leaders were Houston educator Kendra Yarbrough Camarena ($65K), Houston educator and former Houston ISD trustee Anna Eastman ($57K), Houston consultant Michele Leal ($46K) and Houston attorney Chris Watt ($34K), all Democrats. Leal ($120K), Eastman ($60K) and Watt ($54K) spent the most during the period, followed by Camarena ($28K) and Houston firefighter Rob Block ($24K). A couple of candidates’ reports were not yet available online.
Overall, the top contribution totals to date belong to Leal ($155K), Eastman ($107K), Camarena ($82K), Watt ($67K) and Block ($42K).
For the election cycle, the top expenditure totals belong to Leal ($130K), Eastman ($83K), Watt ($62K), Camarena ($38K) and Block ($35K). Leal’s top contributors to date are Houston attorney George Farah ($13K), the Leal family ($12K), Latino Texas PAC ($11K), El Paso business executive Rene Aguilar ($10K), Houston healthcare IT businessman James Devlin ($5K), Houston attorney Manuel and Maritza Gonzales ($5K) and Houston realtor Katy Wyly ($5K).
Eastman’s top contributors to date are Texas Charter Schools Now PAC ($33K), Houston retiree Laura Arnold ($5K), Houston executive Doug Foshee ($5K), Houston executive Joe Greenberg ($5K), Houston education consultant Benjamin Holloway ($5K), Watt’s top contributor to date is the Daspit Law Firm ($5K). Camarena’s top contributors to date are Plumbers Local Union #68 PAC ($55K) and the Latino Labor Leadership PAC ($5K). Block’s top contributors to date are the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Assoc. PAC ($20K) and Houston retiree Peggy Robinson ($10K).
There are two potential wildcards that could limit a runoff spot to just one of these five better funded candidates. The first is Houston paralegal Adrian Garcia, who is no relation to former Harris Co. Sheriff and current Harris Co. Comm. Adrian Garcia (D) but nonetheless has his recognizable name. Garcia has raised $14K and spent $4K overall. The other potential wildcard is the Republican candidates: Houston power generation engineer Luis LaRotta and Houston consultant Ryan McConnico. The district is 19 points bluer than the state as a whole, but Republicans received 35% of the vote head-to-head against their Democratic opponents in 2018. If that same split were to occur in this election, the two Republicans (and potentially independent Chris Carmona) each have a shot at 20% or more of the vote, while the 12 Democrats carve up the remaining 65% of the vote. The race has the potential to be the reverse of HD28, where Republican voters are able to vault their chosen candidate into a runoff, holding the majority party to a single candidate.
Since 1992, there have been three congressional special elections with at least 15 candidates. All three went to runoffs with each runoff candidate getting at least 21% of the vote:
- CD19 (2003): 17 candidates, out of which emerged Randy Neugebauer (22%) and Mike Conaway (21%). Former Rep. Carl Isett (R-Lubbock) was third with 19%.
- CD28 (1997): 15 candidates, out of which emerged Ciro Rodriguez (46%) and Juan F. Solis III (27%); and
- SEN (1993): 24 candidates, out of which emerged U.S. Sen. Bob Krueger (29%) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (29%).
There has not been a state House special election with double-digit candidates since 2010, when Rep. John Kuempel (R-Seguin) won a 10-way race outright with 66% of the vote. He succeeded his father, former Rep. Edmund Kuempel (R-Seguin), who passed away two days after being re-elected to a 15th term.
With so many candidates in the race, 20% of the vote seems like a viable floor for a candidate to reach the runoff, but anything can happen in a special election with a large field of candidates and very few voters. Through yesterday (Monday), just over 4K people had voted in person or by mail in HD128, corresponding to a turnout of about 5% so far.
Incomplete Data Clouds HD100 Picture
Dallas attorney Lorraine Birabil raised $40K, spent $42K and has $22K on hand. Dallas nonprofit executive and pastor James Armstrong III’s report was not yet available online, so we cannot directly compare his numbers to Birabil’s. His 30-day-out report indicated he raised $15K, spent $13K and has $2K on hand. The other two candidates, Dallas business owner Daniel Clayton and former Dallas council member Sandra Crenshaw, raised less than $2K combined. Clayton spent $27K. The report for Dallas attorney Paul Stafford, who is on the ballot but ineligible, was not available. Stafford was the leading fundraiser during the period covered by 30-day-out reports.
We do not have detailed information about turnout for HD100. Through yesterday (Monday), turnout countywide was around 1.5% in Dallas Co.
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