Former Harris Co. Comm. El Franco Lee, who passed away in January 2016, still has more than $3.6M in his campaign account, reported the Houston Chronicle’s Zach Despart. His widow, Ethel Kaye Lee, is its treasurer and has sole discretion on how the funds may be spent. Under state law, the account’s funds must be dispersed by 2022.

They may be contributed to the Democratic Party, one or more candidates and committees, the state, a charitable organization or a university. Individual donations may also be returned. Among Democrats, Lee’s war chest is the third largest, trailing only Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), who had nearly $8M on hand as of December 31, and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), who reported having $4.3M on hand.

The account could become a significant source of campaign contributions for Democrats in the 2020 cycle.

SCCJ: Houston attorney and Harris Co. Civil Court at Law Judge Bill McLeod established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Chief Justice Nathan Hecht (R). McLeod was elected to the Civil Court at Law No. 4 bench in 2018 (55%) after narrowly losing a 2016 race for Justice of the Peace P5 (49%).

HD65: Lewisville resident Paige Jeanie Dixon established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of Rep. Michelle Beckley (D-Carrollton).

TBD: Houston resident Josh Wallenstein established a campaign committee for an unspecified state office as a Democrat. He unsuccessfully sought the 2018 Democratic nomination for Harris County Dept. of Education P3, narrowly losing the runoff to Richard Cantu, 50.2%-49.8%.

CD16: El Paso resident Samuel Lee Williams Jr. established a campaign committee for a potential challenge of U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-El Paso) as an independent.

CD21: 2018 Democratic nominee Joseph Kopser announced he would not seek office in 2020. The tech entrepreneur will instead launch a new grassroots engagement platform called USTomorrow. Kopser lost the open-seat race to Chip Roy, 50%-48%.

PRES: Former Sen. and current Harris Co. Comm. Rodney Ellis (D) endorsed Kamala Harris at a rally in Houston. Meanwhile, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s (D-El Paso) campaign revised the number of individual donors who made contributions in the first 24 hours of his campaign, lowering it to 112K from 128K, which would be just under half the number reported by Bernie Sanders.

Brownsville: A visiting district judge tossed a lawsuit filed by incumbent D2 council member Jessica Tetreau-Kalifa seeking to remove challenger Catalina Presas-Garcia from the ballot. The suit accused Presas-Garcia of voter fraud. Former Mayor Pat Ahumada is also in the race.

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