Speaker Dade Phelan’s (R-Beaumont) campaign said he raised $4.5M during the second half of 2020 and ended the year with $4.8M on hand. It was the most ever raised by an incoming House Speaker, edging out former Speaker Dennis Bonnen’s $4.1M in contributions between July 1 and December 31, 2018. Former Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) raised $1.1M during the second half of 2003. Former Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) raised just $117K in the six months ending 2008, but it was not clear he would become Speaker until January 2009. In fact, Craddick raised $1.1M during the same period as he sought a fourth term as Speaker.

Together, the “Big 3” raised nearly $21M, a record for the six months entering a session following a presidential election. Four years ago, Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) and then-Speaker Joe Straus (R-Angleton) collectively raised $18.2M over the six months leading into the 2017 legislative session.

Three times before, the “Big 3” at those times have raised more – $27.1M before the 2015 session, $25.2M before the 2011 session and $22.2M before the 2003 session – but those all followed gubernatorial election years.

HD68 special: Early voting continues for the January 23 special election. Through yesterday (Thursday), the fourth day of early voting, 1,668 people have voted in person or by mail. Candidates’ 8-day-out reports were due today (Friday) in addition to the January semiannual reports. These reports, which will likely be available online tomorrow (Saturday), will be our first glimpse into the fundraising prowess and support for the candidates.

Senate Committees: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) released his committee assignments (PDF) for the legislative session. Sen. John Whitmire (D) is the sole Democrat to be appointed chair of a committee (Criminal Justice). The Special Committee on Redistricting has 17 members – 10 Republicans, 7 Democrats – and will be chaired by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston). The State Affairs Committee, to which election-related legislation is often referred, has nine members – six Republicans, three Democrats – and will be chaired by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).

Census Data: In a legal filing, the parties in the lawsuit over President Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from the apportionment counts requested a 21-day stay “to allow for transition to the new administration.” Attorneys representing the various plaintiffs and the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed the request jointly. “It has also become clear that the Census Bureau will not be in position to finalize or provide reports” regarding apportionment “prior to the change of administration on January 20.”

A Dept. of Justice attorney previously told U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh that the first set of 2020 Census data would not be released until March 6 – more than two months after the statutory December 31 deadline. These counts are used to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives among the states. Detailed data used for redistricting are likely also further delayed, increasing chances that redistricting will not be completed by the end of the regular session.

NRA ‘Relocation’: The National Rifle Assoc. announced it will restructure as a Texas nonprofit, leaving a “corrupt political and regulatory environment in New York,” as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. “The move comes at a time when the NRA is in its strongest financial condition in years,” the organization said in a press release. Texas was chosen because it “values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members and will join us as a partner is upholding constitutional freedom,” said Wayne LaPierre, the group’s CEO, in the release. “This is a transformational moment in the history of the NRA.” The group’s headquarters building will remain in Virginia.

©2021 Texas Election Source LLC