Texas is very important to presidential hopeful John McCain.
First, the Arizona senator tapped into some already-established support teams for President Bush. Then the 71-year-old clinched the GOP presidential nomination on Texas’ primary election day.
Now, his campaign coffers are filling up with Texas dollars.
In June, Texas was McCain’s top donor state, giving $1.17 million to the Republican’s presidential bid, new campaign finance records show.
"Texas is essential to John McCain," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "It is the cornerstone of a Republican election strategy, both for votes and money.
"The pockets of Texans are quite deep at this point."
Despite Texas being a traditionally red state, Democrat Barack Obama is not faring badly in campaign donations here.
Obama has picked up $6.8 million from Texans during the campaign, not far from McCain’s $7.4 million. Former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton remains the money leader in Texas with $7.5 million in donations before she ended her campaign last month, according to a new analysis of campaign finance records by the Center for Responsive Politics.
In the Fort Worth-Arlington area, McCain is the top dog, pulling in $622,450, ahead of Clinton with $387,981 and Obama with $300,064. Libertarian candidate Bob Barr has picked up $3,300 from Fort Worth-Arlington donors.
Texans have donated more than $41 million to presidential candidates this election year, behind only Californians, who gave $97.3 million, and New Yorkers, who gave $82 million.
Floridians came in fourth, giving $39.2 million to candidates.
"Texans are big givers to all candidates," said Allan Saxe, an associate political science professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. "We are the second-largest state and we have big interests here — oil, communications, high technology and so much more."
Texas has given the fourth largest amount to McCain after California ($12.4 million), Florida ($8.1 million) and New York ($7.8 million). In Arizona, McCain’s home state, donors gave him $4.3 million, campaign finance records show.
Some say this means Texans may be giving, but have yet to truly financially back McCain.
"Texas is the largest red state," said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. "If you have both California and New York, which are blue states, giving more money than Texas, Texas has to step up, as do others.
"I think Texans are somewhat under-invested in this campaign because there’s not a Texan on the ballot, or, for Republicans, a Republican they are not very excited about," he said. "Texans have been ambivalent through the campaign. . . . Republicans will have to work hard to match the enthusiasm on the Democrats’ side."
As far as donations to Obama, Texas has given the sixth-largest amount, behind California ($30.7 million), New York ($19.8 million), his home state of Illinois ($15.8 million), Massachusetts ($7.6 million) and Florida ($7 million).
Jillson said Obama could help fellow Democrats on the ballot this fall in Texas and elsewhere.
"Right now, the struggle is to get him to come back to Texas for more than fundraising — to commit to campaign here," Jillson said. "He can help down-ballot Democrats."