Texas Senate race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison will be expensive

The Fort Worth Star-TelegramFebruary 20, 2012 

The race to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison could soon become one of the nation's costliest contests.

Texans still don't know for sure when the primary will be, but three Republicans seeking the seat have already raised almost a combined $20 million for the race, federal election records show: $8.2 million by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, $6 million by former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and $3.9 million by former Solicitor General Ted Cruz.

"It is nearly guaranteed that this will be one of the biggest-spending Senate races in the nation, top five, I would guess," said Larry Sabato, a political analyst and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "We're talking about Texas, a state that defines big.

"It will take many, many millions."

What that money might buy, Sabato isn't so sure.

He and others say Dewhurst, the state's No. 2 leader and a millionaire who can fund his own campaign, may be hard to beat on statewide name recognition.

"It all depends on how much David Dewhurst wants to spend and he'll spend whatever he thinks is needed to win the primary and runoff," Sabato said. "The non-Dewhurst candidates are running a race for the runoff."

They are vying for the seat Hutchison said last year that she won't seek re-election to after more than 17 years in office. She is finishing her term, which ends in January.

Here's a look at the money being raised by the Texans who hope to replace her in the Senate, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. The reports show contributions from October through December as well as totals for 2011.

Big bucks

Dewhurst banked $8.2 million for his campaign in 2011, including $3.5 million in the year's last three months, and has nearly $3.8 million on hand. His total includes $4 million that he lent the campaign, $2 million of which was given during the last quarter.

Among his donations: $5,000 from Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, $5,000 from Texas developer H. Ross Perot Jr. of Plano, $5,000 from Houston home builder and major Republican contributor Bob Perry, $2,500 from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and $2,500 from Fort Worth auto dealer Mac Churchill.

Other donations last year include $1,000 from Arlington attorney and North Texas Tollway Authority board member Victor Vandergriff, $500 from the Mike Moncrief campaign and $500 from Texas A&M University Chancellor John Sharp. Sharp, a former Democratic state comptroller, lost a 2002 bid for lieutenant governor to Dewhurst.

Dewhurst received donations from political action committees, including $10,000 from the Fort Worth-based Q Fed PAC, which has received donations from people who work for Renegade Swish, a limited partnership controlled by Fort Worth investment banker Geoffrey Raynor; $1,000 from the Bluebell Creameries Inc. PAC; $5,000 from the Fort Worth-based Burke Burnett Inc. PAC; and $2,500 from the Fort Worth-based BNSF RailPAC.

Leppert picked up more than $6 million last year, including nearly $900,000 in the last quarter, and has $4.1 million on hand.

Last year, he lent his campaign $3.1 million, including $500,000 on Dec. 29.

As former mayor of Dallas, many of his donations came from Dallas-area residents. Other notable donations include $1,000 from Philip Jones of Southlake, president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau; $1,250 from Brad Brookshire of Tyler, CEO of the Brookshire Grocery Co.; and $500 from Rick George of Arlington, an executive with the Texas Rangers.

He also received $500 from former RadioShack CEO Len Roberts of Fort Worth; $2,500 from Fort Worth auto dealer David McDavid; $2,500 from James Falk of Dallas, president and CEO of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth; and $1,327.50 through an in-kind contribution from Harriet Miers of Dallas, a past State Bar of Texas president and onetime White House counsel to former President George W. Bush.

Cruz collected nearly $4 million in donations, including nearly $1.1 million in the last quarter of 2011, and has $2.9 million on hand. He lent the campaign $70,000 last year, none of it in the last quarter.

His donations include $7,500 from W.A. "Tex" Moncrief of Fort Worth; $2,500 from Fort Worth attorney Jay Rutherford; $250 from Fort Worth attorney Matt Krause, who is running for a seat in the Texas House; $1,241 from Elliot Goldman, a former Fort Worth mayoral candidate and former Hutchison aide.

He also received $2,500 from Dean Koontz of Newport Beach, Calif., and $2,500 from former Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Houston-based hair-care magnate Farouk Shami.

Cruz received donations from political action committees, including $5,000 from the Q Fed PAC and more than $420,000 from the conservative super PAC Club for Growth, which has been running at least half a million dollars' worth of TV ads against Dewhurst. Club for Growth officials say contributions sent to Cruz were bundled donations as well as one in-kind donation of a luncheon.

Other Republicans

Former ESPN football analyst Craig James jumped into the Senate race late last year, not formally launching his campaign until January. So he wasn't required to file campaign fundraising forms for 2011.

James, a former Southern Methodist University running back, is the father of Adam James, a Texas Tech football player whose family said he was mistreated after being diagnosed with a concussion. Tech coach Mike Leach, who denied mistreating James, was fired in 2009.

"As for fundraising, we are exactly where we expected to be at this point," said Meredith Turney, a spokeswoman for Craig James' campaign.

Glenn Addison of Magnolia received more than $85,000 last year, including $17,606 in the quarter,, and has more than $10,000 in cash on hand. Last year, he lent his campaign $937.77, including $59.95 in the last quarter.

Lela Pittenger of Driftwood raised more than $17,000 last year, including $13,159 in the last quarter, and was in the hole for nearly $13,000 at the end of 2011. Curt Cleaver of Keller received $9,097 last year, including $5,888.50 in the last three months, and has $421.75 on hand. Last year, he loaned his campaign $3,565.16, including $768.50 during the last three months of the year.

Campaign documents for "Doc Joe" Agris of Bellaire, Ben Gambini of Winnie and Charles Holcomb of Wimberley were not posted on the elections commission website.

Democratic dollars

Initially, five Democrats were in the race for their party's nomination for the Senate seat. That dropped to four this year when Jason Gibson of Sugar Land dropped. He endorsed Paul Sadler of Henderson, a former East Texas state representative, saying in a statement that he still believes that "Texas deserves a hardworking U.S. Senator who will challenge gridlock in Washington."

Sadler, who entered the race on the last day of filing in December, showed receiving no contributions for his campaign last year. He lent his campaign $5,000, which was used to pay for getting on the ballot, leaving him with no cash on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Daniel Boone of Canyon Lake received $5,401.42 last year, all in the last quarter, and had $266.42 on hand. He lent his campaign $5,135.

Sean Hubbard of Dallas received $16,972.07 last year, including $6,523 in the last quarter, and had $454.04 on hand. He has put more than $6,000 of his own money into the campaign, including $5,473 in the last three months.

A year-end campaign finance report for Addie Dainell Allen of Beaumont was not posted on the FEC website.

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

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