FEB. 25 UPDATE: Campaign finance reports for Democrats seeking the District 5 seat on the Texas State Board of Education are now available. See below for the new numbers. Rebecca Bell-Metereau continues to build a large fundraising lead over her opponents for the Democratic nomination. We have also updated finance numbers from a corrected finance report from Bob Craig.
UPDATE: New numbers are available below as of noon today (Feb. 23) for Districts 5, 10 and 12 Republicans. District 5 Democratic reports are not available. (Most have been filed but are not publicly available until all have been filed.)
The flow of money to the campaigns of far-right candidates and incumbents in Texas State Board of Education races increased substantially over the past month. New campaign finance reports — which were due to the Texas Ethics Commission today, eight days before the March 2 primary — show that a handful of big donors are largely driving the spike in fundraising. And the biggest winner in the fundraising sweepstakes this month is West Texas candidate Randy Rives, who appears to be the far right’s best hope to pick up a seat on the state board.
Rives, who is challenging incumbent Bob Craig of Lubbock in the GOP primary, has raked in more than $30,000 since January 22 — a nearly 3:1 advantage over incumbent Bob Craig’s fundraising total during the same period. Rives had reported less than $2,000 in contributions prior to January 22.
Incumbent Don McLeroy of College Station also saw a big jump in donations: less than $2,000 before January 22 and $13,500 since then. His challenger in the Republican primary, Thomas Ratliff of Mount Pleasant, reported more than $12,600 in contributions in the most recent period.
Among the biggest donors to far-right candidates are John, Sally and Don Mitchell from The Woodlands and Houston. We’re researching their background at this time. McLeroy got $5,000 each from John Mitchell and Sally Mitchell. The same two Mitchells also gave incumbent Ken Mercer of San Antonio $5,000 apiece — with the combined $10,000 making up close to half of Mercer’s take over the past month. John, Sally and Don Mitchell plus the Mitchell Family Trust also gave heavily to Rives’ campaign — accounting for $11,000, or more than a third, of that candidate’s fundraising total over the past month.
Interestingly, San Antonio businessman James Leininger — who essentially funded the religious right’s takeover of the state board — has yet to put any money into this year’s board races. But there seem to be plenty of other activists and deep-pocketed donors supporting the far right’s grip on the board. For example, Michael Boylan, head of a Houston property management company, gave close to $5,000, split between Rives and Mercer. In addition, Neal Frey of Educational Research Analysts and Mark Ramsey of Texans for Better Science Education also gave small contributions — Frey to Rives and Ramsey to both Rives and Mercer. Frey and Ramsey head pro-censorship groups that oppose the teaching of evolution and responsible sex education. Rives also got a $100 from GodEmpowered.com, a Web site promoting a book that encourages wives to submit themselves to the leadership of their husbands.
Board member David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, also donated to Rives’ campaign. It should be interesting to see how that donation affects Bradley’s relationship with Craig on the board.
How is the money being spent? Campaign mailers to potential primary voters are a big item. Rives, for example, spent about half of his contributions over the last month on campaign mailers. We haven’t seen the mailers yet. The districts are so large, however, that mailouts will likely be narrowly targeted on certain voters to keep costs down for campaigns.
Below is our recap of campaign finance reports that include the most recent filings, which were due today, or eight days before the March 2 primary. The Feb. 22 reports cover the Jan. 22-Feb. 20 period. We will update information as it becomes available.
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: Feb. 22 report: $800 in contributions, $438.87 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $22,031 in contributions, $19,595.60 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $ 21,443.73, $ 14,495.05 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $ 18,561.21; $ 5,177.40 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $0 in contribution, $ 3,608.72 cash on hand; 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. 22 report $0 in contributions, $ 6.15 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $13,502 in contributions, $13,344.34 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $12,656.96 in contributions; $9,501.70 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $ 3,350 in contributions, $327.62 cash on hand; $117,527.73 in expenditures; 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. 22 report: $ 6,524.28 in contributions, $4,305.67 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $ 5,415 in contributions, $7.520.45 cash on hand, $15,000 in loans from Russell to his campaign; 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. 22 report: $1,140 in contributions, $1,140 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $20 in contributions, $0 cash on hand; 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. 22 report: $ 11,000 in contributions, $ 5,869.80 cash on hand; 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: February 22 report: $30,655 in contributions, $11,427.24 cash on hand; Feb. 1 report: $1,800.63 in contributions, $1,800.63 cash on hand; January report: no contributions, no cash on hand