The relevant numbers in the finance reports

The headlines will say one thing but you need to dig a little deeper to get the picture.


Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott has amassed a $35.6 million war chest in his campaign for Texas governor, a figure his aides called unprecedented Tuesday.

Abbott’s cash-on-hand figure dwarfs the $13.1 million that his Democratic opponent, Sen. Wendy Davis, said she had piled up so far. The figures from the Davis campaign include money destined for the Democrats’ separate turnout operation.

Both campaigns released their fundraising totals ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. The actual reports, which provide details about donors and expenditures, were not immediately available.

Though Abbott has far more money to spend on the race, Davis had her own reason to brag. She claimed raising $11.2 million for the most recent fundraising period, which ran from late February through June 30. Abbott pulled in $11.1 million over the same time frame, his campaign said.

It’s true that Abbott has a huge wad of cash, much more than anyone else, but what the story fails to mention is that he’s had a twelve year head start in raising that cash. Look at it this way: In his July 2013 report, Abbott showed $20,978,129.91 on hand, which means that in the year since then, he’s netted about $14.7 million in cash. That’s not bad at all, but remember, Wendy Davis hadn’t even declared for Governor at that point. Her first gubernatorial finance report is from January of 2014. Her comparable cash on hand figure can be seen by looking at her July 2013 Senate fundraising account, which had
$1,063,108.05 on hand. This means that she has amassed a bit more than $12 million in net cash since then, or about $2.6 million less than Abbott. When you consider that she outraised him in three of the four reporting periods, and that she had to invest a lot more in building a statewide infrastructure from scratch, that tells a rather different story.

That doesn’t change the fact that Abbott has over $20 million more on hand than she does, and that he could start carpet-bombing the airwaves with nonstop ads from now through November if he wanted to. It’s not clear to me what the marginal effect of another $10 or $20 million in TV ads or mailers or what have you may be – I suspect people start to tune them out long before the end – but Abbott has that capability. My point is that Davis may be outgunned, but she’s hardly outclassed. We expected her to give Abbott a run for his money, and she has done that. Kudos to Wayne Slater for acknowledging that.

There’s a similar dynamic in the Lt. Gov. race.

Since defeating incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a May 28 runoff, [Dan] Patrick has raised $1 million. [Leticia] Van de Putte, who ran unopposed, raised about $1.2 million in the same time period. Four months ahead of the general election, the two candidates are working with similar balances in their respective war chests, with Van de Putte reporting $1.1 million cash on hand while Patrick has $946,982 in the bank.

The two campaigns released some fundraising totals ahead of the Texas Ethics Commission’s Tuesday deadline for reports covering fundraising activity and expenditures through June 30. The reports were not immediately available.

Patrick raised $2.2 million during a crowded, four-way primary election, and $4.5 million during his runoff against Dewhurst. His overall haul so far — $7.8 million since last summer — dwarfs his Democratic opponent’s. Since announcing her candidacy in late November, Van de Putte has raised almost $2.3 million.

The news that LVdP outraised Patrick since May 28 is encouraging, and may be an indicator that she will have real crossover potential. We’ll have to see what the full report looks like for that. Patrick’s overall fundraising lead is largely due to the race dynamic so far – he had two competitive elections to win while she was unopposed and didn’t really start fundraising until after the primary. She will have to do at least as well on a monthly basis to keep up or (one hopes) surpass him, as Patrick has much higher name recognition than she has. That’s a double-edged sword for him, of course, but people will need to know about LVdP for it to really matter. I’d love for her to reach $10 million overall, but if she can at least pull in another $5 million by the start of early voting, I’ll feel like she can do what she needs to get her name out there.

UPDATE: Davis’ cash total is a bit less than originally reported due to a large in-kind donation and some deadline shenanigans with BGTX’s payroll. A little annoying and a needless distraction, but in the grand scheme of things not that much actual money.

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