October 17, 2008
Campaign finances for the Congressional races

A little update from the Chron on the three high-profile Congressional races in the area.

Houston-area congressmen John Culberson and Nick Lampson are seeing major shifts in financial support for their opponents' campaigns as the candidates meet the latest deadlines for disclosing their funding.

Democrat Michael Skelly's campaign spent $1.5 million through September in the Republican-friendly 7th Congressional District, more than twice as much as Republican Culberson's, Federal Election Commission records show.

Skelly, a wind energy executive who has now lent almost $1 million in personal money to his campaign, came into October with more cash in his campaign account than Culberson and has raised more than the incumbent from donors.

The latest figures make the west Houston race one of the few in the nation in which the challenger has maintained a campaign money advantage over a House member seeking re-election on Nov. 4. Much of Skelly's money has paid for a constant stream of TV ads and mailings.

Word on the street is that Culberson is going negative on Skelly in his latest ad. That at least has a chance of being credible, unlike the ridiculous "now is the time to put partisan politics aside" spot Culberson currently has going. I mean, as if. The fact that he is going negative says a lot about where he thinks this race is. I can't wait to see the next batch of polls.

In the race for the nearby 22nd Congressional District represented by Democrat Nick Lampson of Stafford, candidate Pete Olson is among several Republican challengers across the country whose financial backing from the National Republican Congressional Committee has sunk.

The committee has cut its local TV advertising budget on behalf of Olson to about $600,000 from $1.5 million, according to TV station records, amid national news reports that the NRCC is redirecting much of its funding to help Republican congressmen outside Texas who are facing robust re-election challenges.

It struck me recently that the CD22 race really isn't all that high profile this year. In 2006, it was just about the top race in the state, and one of the top races nationally, at least in terms of media attention and funding. This year, it's not been nearly as prominent. Now granted, the 2006 race is an impossible act to follow, and everything is overshadowed this year by Obama, but still. You just don't hear as much about CD22 (outside of the district, anyway) as you might expect. And that's a very good thing for Rep. Lampson, because it suggests there isn't all that much drama to this race.

In the 10th District, which stretches from far northwest Harris County to Austin, Republican Michael McCaul of Austin maintained the customary campaign finance advantage for an incumbent. He reported having $598,000 on hand as October started, compared to $221,000 for Democratic challenger Larry Joe Doherty, a lawyer who lives in Burton.

McCaul has lent $200,000 to his campaign; Doherty pumped $100,000 into his race.

I think this race deserved more space in the article. First, as BOR notes, Doherty was almost even with McCaul in the quarter, once you factor out McCaul's late self-donation. And second, Doherty has been added to the DCCC's latest Red to Blue list, which also features Skelly. There's some real potential for a late push here.

Finally, on a somewhat tangential note, Marc Ambinder reports that the DNC is considering dropping some late money into state legislative races across the country, including in Texas. That's almost mind-boggling to contemplate. Maybe Tom Craddick's cash reserves won't mean so much after all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 17, 2008 to Election 2008

I received an anti-Skelly mailing today. That makes me think they actually take him seriously.

Posted by: progrocks on October 17, 2008 10:11 AM

I know my neighborhood is very Republican, but I don't recall seeing any Skelly mailers. None.

Posted by: Patrick on October 17, 2008 5:48 PM

I received the anti-Skelly mailer. Apparently Michael Skelly wants to take everyone's land to build a transmission line! As opposed to taking everyone's land to build a 20+ lane I-10, I suppose.

Posted by: Mike on October 18, 2008 12:40 AM

Sheila Jackson Lee is in trouble in this election and no one seems to know it... Least of all her!

There have been significant demographic shifts in District 18 since she last had a Republican opponent.

Inner city neighborhoods in the Heights, Garden Oaks, Mid-Town and elsewhere have been redeveloped and incomes have risen.

Also, the # of African Americans living in the district has stayed basically flat while the # of Hispanics has grown by 65,000.

There were a total of 150,000 votes cast in the district in the last election.

Plus the fact that there is a significant amount of disillusionment with Sheila amongst African Americans, as illustrated by Marcus Davis' considering running against her earlier this year.

John Faulk, the Republican opponent, got a late start but, is working the street hard.

Since she has an opponent this time, she'll give up 40 to 50k votes to Republican voters, many of whom vote straight ticket. Then Faulk just needs a 50% of the new hispanics and new high income whites in the district and he's won!

Posted by: Craig Klein on October 30, 2008 1:58 PM
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