New finance reports show that fundraising so far for Texas State Board of Education campaigns appears to be significantly higher than in many past elections. But fundraising totals in most races this year are still relatively small considering the size of the sprawling board districts in play.
District 5 (Ken Mercer, incumbent), for example, begins in San Antonio and extends out into the Hill Country, up to southern Travis County and then around the west up to Bell County well to the north of Austin. District 9 (Don McLeroy, incumbent) stretches from north of Dallas to around Bryan/College Station. District 10 (Cynthia Dunbar, not running for re-election) stretches from northern Travis County and Williamson County to west of Houston. Moreover, the population for each of the 15 board districts is also more than twice that for the state’s more numerous Congressional and state Senate districts.
So candidates in these races need a lot of money to get their messages out to voters. San Antonio businessman James Leininger, the religious right’s sugar daddy in Texas, spent heavily in the early and mid-1990s to help elect far-right candidates to the board. But with notable exceptions, state board races typically attract just a few thousand dollars. One such exception: Ken Mercer raised about $50,000 in his successful bid to defeat board incumbent Dan Montgomery in the 2006 Republican Primary. More than half of Mercer’s total came from Leininger.
Leininger hasn’t thrown his wallet into the electoral ring this year, at least not for state board seats. It’s possible that he will do so in the final month of the primary campaign because Mercer and McLeroy — both members of the board’s far-right faction — face stiff challenges in their GOP races. And the November general election will include several board races contested by both major parties.
In the meantime, only a few candidates seem to be drawing significant money — so far. Mercer’s Republican opponent, Tim Tuggey of Austin, leads the pack, reporting contributions of nearly $75,000 since mid-2009, according to reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. But Mercer’s fundraising totals less than $10,000 for the same period. Of the Democrats seeking that District 5 seat, Rebecca Bell-Metereau is the fundraising leader: more than $28,000 since mid-2009.
Democrat Judy Jennings, who is seeking Cynthia Dunbar’s board seat, appears to have pulled in about as much. (Jennings was not required to file a Feb. 1 campaign finance report because she faces no primary challenger.) As you’ll see below, Republicans seeking Dunbar’s seat appear to have raised somewhat less. Even so, neither Jennings nor Reublicans seeking the seat have pulled in anywhere near what Tuggey has in his race, and campaigns in a district that includes Austin and areas west of Houston will require a lot of money.
Below is our recap of campaign finance reports that include the most recent filings, which were due Feb. 1, or 30 days before primary day. The Feb. 1 reports generally cover the first three weeks of January. The next filing deadline is eight days before the March 2 primary.
This district is dominated by El Paso but stretches to the Rio Grande Valley.
Rene Nuñez (I): No new report; January report: no contributions, in $465 cash on hand at end of 2009
Carlos “Charlie” Garza: No reports available yet
This is a San Antonio-based district. Democratic incumbent Rick Agosto is not running for re-election.
Michael Soto: No new report; January report: $14,242.68 in contributions, in $9,190.41 cash on hand at end of 2009
Tony Cunningham: No reports available yet
Joan Muenzler: January 15, 2010, report: $1,300 in contributions, $1,300 in loans from herself, $2,600 cash on hand; no 2009 report
This is a Houston district.
Incumbent Lawrence Allen Jr., D-Houston, faces neither Democratic nor Republican opposition for re-election.
This district stretches from Bexar County to southern Travis County and includes the Hill Country and up to Bell County north of Austin.
Ken Mercer (I): Feb. 1 report: $1,800 in contributions, $3,511.14 cash on hand; January report: $8,035.00 in contributions, in $3,639.05 cash on hand at end of 2009
Tim Tuggey: Feb. 1 report: $14,266.66 in contributions, $26,339.86 cash on hand; January report: $60,330.58 in contributions, in $24,945.65 cash on hand at end of 2009
Rebecca Bell-Metereau: Feb. 1 report: $10,614.51 in contributions, $15,311.34 cash on hand; January report: $17,797 in contributions, in $6,414.44 cash on hand at the end of 2009
Daniel Boone: Feb. 1 report: $0 in contributions, $3,357.72 cash on hand; January report: $4,176.72 in contributions, in $3,457.72 cash on hand at the end of 2009
Josiah Ingalls: Feb. 1 report: $0 contributions, $21.15 cash on hand; January report: $350 in contributions, in $36.15 cash on hand
This largely East-Central Texas district stretches from Plano to Bryan-College Station.
Don McLeroy (I): Feb. 1 report: $700 in contributions, $781.71 cash on hand; January report: $1,200 in contributions, $611.33 in cash on hand
Thomas Ratliff: Feb. 1 report: $6,775 in contributions, $11,590.25 cash on hand; January report: $15,173.20 in contributions, $8,098.50 in cash on hand
This district stretches from Williamson and northern Travis County to just west of Houston. Republican incumbent Cynthia Dunbar is not running for re-election.
Marsha Farney: Feb. 1 report: $20,900 in contributions, $0 cash on hand ($30,831.74 in expenditures; January report: no contributions, no cash on hand
Rebecca Osborne: Feb. 1 report: $3,300 in contributions, $8,495.09 cash on hand; January report: $5,416.00 in contributions, $5,515.09 in cash on hand
Brian Russell: Feb. 1 report: $725 in contributions, $7,658.20 cash on hand; January report: $8,229.40 in contributions, $7,455 in cash on hand
Judy Jennings: No new report; January report: $15,900 in contributions, $14,072.31 in cash on hand
This is a Dallas-area district.
Geraldine “Tincy” Miller (I): Feb. 1 report: $20 in contributions, $20 cash on hand; January report: no contributions or cash on hand, $48,685.71 in reported expenditures
George Clayton: Feb. 1 report: $2,045 in contributions, $0 cash on hand; January report: no contributions, no cash on hand
This district includes the Panhandle and much of West Texas.
Bob Craig (I): Feb. 1 report: $2,200 in contributions, $4,643.31 cash on hand; January report: $4,000 in contributions, $4,443.31 in cash on hand
Randy Rives: Feb. 1 report: $1,800.63 in contributions, $1,800.63 cash on hand; January report: no contributions, no cash on hand