Texas House Races to Watch: Dems Take
Slight Early Edge in Majority Cash Derby
Texas House Races
to Watch Cash
July 31, 2020
The coronavirus appeared to be a great equalizer in the chase for campaign cash on the critical Texas House battlefield where Democrats rounded up almost $2.5 million collectively in the 20 hottest fall fights during the pandemics first four months when their GOP foes had a $2.4 million combined haul.
The big money is probably just starting to flow to the campaigns that are competing in a general election that's transcendental by virtue of both the timing and stakes with Democrats hoping to ride President Donald Trump's stunning unraveling back to majority status in the Texas Capitol's west wing.
With Democrats within a nine seat net gain of taking the House back this fall, the minority party's nominees in competitive contests can expect contagion-proof support from trial lawyers and national forces while the GOP's contenders have deep-pocket establishment interests in their corners.
But the COVID-19 crisis has forced the candidates to adapt without warning to a running environment that's almost supernatural with no more public fundraising gatherings and highly limited opportunities for old-time retail politics like knocking on doors when Zoom is more effective and socially acceptable.
The Democrats had a rare and tiny overall advantage in the pandemic cash quest in the top 20 Texas House Races to Watch in the November general election. While that could vanish in no time, the Democrats' ability to go toe to toe with their fall foes with the economy collapsing in a state of endless uncertainty is a significant sign that could boost their drawing power for out of state donors who who are willing to expand their largess beyond the president's race.
The Democrats raised $125.000 on average during the first four months of the pandemic compared to $120,000 that the average GOP counterpart received from contributors in the period that began on January 1 for candidates who were unopposed in round one while starting in the last week of February for those who had primary competition. The reporting period ended on the Fourth of July when Democrat Joe Biden was beginning to build up significant leads over Trump in most of the major swing states while running even with the president here this month.
A quartet of Democratic challengers - Joanna Cattanach of Dallas, Elizabeth Beck of Fort Worth, Lydia Bean of Arlington and Natali Hurtado of Houston - all topped the six-figure mark with their fundraising efforts during the health crisis and the period got under way before the state started locking down in March.
Democrat Ann Johnson had the best opening half for the blue in the most competitive races with $268,000 between February 23 and June 30 as a nominee who faced primary opposition that she crushed en route to a belated rematch with GOP State Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston. Davis reported about half as much as the challenger who she defeated in her first re-election race in 2012.
Cattanach and Beck raised $181,000 and $163,000 respectively during the same time span when they notched impressive victories over first round foes in bids against a pair of incumbent Republicans in State Reps. Morgan Meyer of Dallas and Craig Goldman of Fort Worth in races that could be toss ups. Goldman and Meyer led the pack in the first half with contributions of $293,000 and $248,000 respectively.
Euless Democrat Jeff Whitfield generated more than $201,000 between late February and early July in an open House race in a district where he eliminated the party's 2018 nominee in the initial vote. Democrat Brandy Chambers of Garland raised $169,000 during the first six months for a rematch this fall with GOP State Rep. Angie Chen Button.
Targeted GOP State Reps. Jeff Leach of Allen and Matt Krause of Fort Worth rounded up $132,00 and $127,000 respectively during the first six months when they'd run unopposed in the first election.
But the incumbent representatives on both sides of the aisle raised less on average than the average candidate in the 20 races that appear to have the best shots at being close. Eleven House Republicans who are facing challengers in swing districts reported $111,000 on average compared to $113,000 for five incumbent Democrats with GOP opponents.