Texas 'is just a giant ATM' for 2012 presidential candidates

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramOctober 24, 2011 

Texans have some mighty deep pockets for the 2012 presidential race.

They have sent more than $16.2 million to presidential candidates this year, including President Barack Obama, Gov. Rick Perry and more than a half-dozen other GOP challengers ranging from Mitt Romney to Ron Paul.

"Texas is consistently one of our four or five greatest sources of political cash," said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "Texas is full of big givers and every candidate knows it."

Despite a late jump into the race, Perry leads the fundraising pack in his state, receiving $9.7 million, more than half of all donations from Texans. Obama is a distant second, with $2.4 million, closely followed by Republican Mitt Romney, with $2.1 million. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Lake Jackson pulled in the fourth most, with more than $650,000 from Texans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which compiled federal campaign records through September.

Californians have given the most to presidential candidates this year, $16.9 million, followed by Texans, who donated $16.2 million. New York comes in third, with more than $10.4 million, Florida is fourth with $6.5 million, and Massachusetts is fifth, with more than $5 million, federal records show.

Some say Texans' best chance to influence the 2012 presidential election may be to help fund campaigns, since the race could be decided before the state's March 6 primary.

"Our primary is so late that it doesn't have much impact on the presidential race usually," said Tom Marshall, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, who added that the 2008 Democratic primary, when Texas' vote did matter, was an exception. "Texas is just a giant ATM for the candidates."

Here's a look at some donations Texans made to presidential candidates through September, according to the Center for Responsive Politics and the Federal Election Commission.

Rick Perry: More than half the money Perry raised came from Texas: $9.7 million of $17.2 million, records show. Since joining the race in mid-August, Perry has received donations from throughout the state, and Fort Worth-Arlington was fifth in Texas metro areas in shoring up his war chest. Houston led with $2.5 million, then Dallas with $1.7 million, Austin-San Marcos with $1.2 million, San Antonio with $949,299 and Fort Worth-Arlington with $724,450.

Local donations include six from Bass family members in Fort Worth, each at $2,500, and seven from Moncrief family members, including Richard, Tom, Kit, Charles and W.A. All the Moncrief donations were $2,500, except W.A. Moncrief's, which was $2,400. Other donations included: $2,500 from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones; $2,500 from state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury; $2,500 from Fort Worth pianist Van Cliburn; $2,500 from local auto dealer Mac Churchill; $2,500 from state Comptroller Susan Combs; and $2,500 from U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz.

"Gov. Perry didn't start until fairly late in the campaign," Marshall said. "He doubtlessly has not tapped out Texas yet."

Obama: The president picked up more than 1,000 donations from Texans totaling more than $2.4 million. Among them were $5,000 from Art Brender, former Tarrant County Democratic chairman, and another $5,000 from Brender's wife, Lynda; $5,000 from Dallas attorney Russell Budd, who hosted a fundraiser for Obama at his home in August; $1,000 from former Fort Worth Councilman Jeff Davis; $1,000 from Steve Maxwell, Tarrant County Democratic chairman; and $1,000 from F. Scott McCown, executive director of the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities.

"There's a single candidate for the Democrats," said Brandon Rottinghaus, an associate political science professor at the University of Houston. "All the money that's out there to be raised by Democrats is going to that person. The Republicans have to split that money up somewhat."

Romney: The former Massachusetts governor collected more than 1,000 Texas donations totaling $2.1 million. Many Tarrant County donations came before Perry entered the race, including $2,500 from Fort Worth's Vicki Bass; $2,500 from Jerry Jones; $2,500 each from Fort Worth attorney Dee Kelly and Dee Kelly Jr.; $2,500 from Fort Worth philanthropist Anne Marion; $2,500 from local auto dealer David McDavid; $2,500 from Bob Perry, a Houston home builder and longtime supporter of Rick Perry; and $2,500 each from four members of the Moncrief family: Kit, Marsland, Richard and Tom.

Paul: The congressman from Lake Jackson has received more than 1,000 donations from Texas totaling $662,099. His donors span the state and include geologists, retirees, small-business owners, doctors, software engineers, salespeople, teachers, self-employed musicians, beekeepers and the unemployed. Among his local donations: $2,500 from Fort Worth's Joshua Ayers; $2,500 from Fort Worth's Bruce Ferguson; $2,500 from Arlington's Michael Rice; $1,000 from Aledo's Patrick Hisel; and $250 from Burleson's Matthew Terrance Ashford.

"Ron Paul receives a number of small donations from a lot of people," Marshall said.

Herman Cain: The former CEO of Godfather's Pizza has received 400 donations totaling $254,002 from Texans, with some larger donations from the Houston area. Tarrant County residents included Mary Cruz of Fort Worth, $500, Kelye Stites of Colleyville, $500, and longtime Republican Don Shipe of Benbrook, $300.

Michele Bachmann: The Minnesota congresswoman collected nearly 450 Texas donations totaling more than $200,000, including $2,500 from U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and $1,000 from Fort Worth's Charles Moncrief, as well as a slew of smaller donations such as $250 from Fort Worth's J. Lee Johnson, $250 from Cleburne's Howard Dudley and $250 from Arlington's Michael Hatala.

Jon Huntsman: The former Utah governor received 104 donations from Texans totaling $134,750. They include $5,000 from Dallas real estate investor Harlan Crow, $500 from Arlington's Tom Farrier and $250 from Weatherford's Joy Jordan.

Newt Gingrich: The former U.S. House speaker logged 163 Texas donations totaling $122,740. Among them were $2,500 from Weatherford's Zan Prince, $2,500 from Arlington's George Shelton, $1,000 from Southlake's Greg Gist, $250 from Arlington's Allen Avery, $250 from Arlington's Coby Belew and $250 from Fort Worth's Holly Bishop.

Rick Santorum: The former Pennsylvania senator picked up 45 donations from Texans totaling $47,525. They include $2,500 from Colleyville's Connie Raley, $2,500 from Colleyville's Richard Raley, $1,000 from Southlake's Laura Hill and $400 from Fort Worth's Brian Petrando.

Gary Johnson: The former New Mexico governor received 31 donations from Texas totaling $36,400. They include $2,500 from Fort Worth's Mark Hart, $2,500 from Fort Worth's Shannon Hart and $250 from Granbury's Daniel Askins.

Other presidential candidates also drew Texas donations, including Jared Blankenship, $33,800; John Thune, $19,550; Randall A. Terry, $7,300; Mike Pence, $5,200; and Thaddeus G. McCotter, $3,250, federal campaign records show.

To read more, visit www.star-telegram.com.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service