For the first time in his long political career, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is facing a competitive Republican primary election this March. In politics, the candidate who raises the most money doesn’t necessarily win, however, you do have to have enough money to be commutative. Fundraising numbers are a chief metric of candidate viability, and while Abbott has a massive lead in fundraising over his challengers, some of them have raised enough money to at least make it a competitive race.
Let’s take a look at the fundraising numbers in the Texas gubernatorial race from the last reporting period. The most recent disclosures are the January Semiannual Reports, which document all contributions, expenditures, and cash on hand from the period of July 1 through December 31, 2021.
The reports show Abbott with a massive lead when it comes to fundraising, with the incumbent raking in $18.9 million in campaign contributions over the last period. The governor’s campaign spent $9.6 million, and he is currently sitting on over $65 million in cash on hand. Abbott’s numbers are huge for a governor, even in a state as big as Texas. $65 million is more like a nascent presidential campaign war-chest.
Although none of Abbott’s challengers come close to the governor’s fundraising numbers, his opponent with the most money is Don Huffines, a former state senator and businessman from the Dallas area. Huffines raised about $2 million in the last period, and spent about $5.7 million during that same time. His campaign is currently sitting on $3.6 million in cash on hand. Huffines and his family had loaned his campaign a lot of money during the previous reporting period during the 1st half of 2021, so his numbers from the last report were a lot larger than the most recent report.
Former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West did not enter the race until after the previous finance reports had been filed, so the most recent report is his first. His fundraising this period has been on par with Huffines, however, he is starting from behind because he did not raise any money during the previous period. West has raised $1.9 million, spent $1.2 million, and has $166,000 in cash on hand.
Rounding out the list of Abbott’s more well known challengers, entertainer Chad Prather raised $108,000 during the last period, spent $116,000, and now has $20,000 cash on hand.
The most recent reports did contain one surprise: enigmatic candidate Kandy Kaye Horn reported spending $1.3 million of her own money on her campaign for governor. Horn’s report lists only two expenditures: $250,000 for advertising with Hearst News, the owner of the Houston Chronicle, and over $1 million to Lamar Companies for billboards. Not much information could be found about Horn, and she doesn’t seem to have a website or attend candidate forums. She lives in Houston and is a philanthropist who founded the Kandy Kaye Horn Foundation.
The Texas Citizen Journal’s analysis of the finance reports concludes that while Abbott is still the odds-on favorite to win re-election, Huffines and West are his two most serious challengers, and the most likely candidates to force the governor into a runoff if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. However, politics can be full of surprises.
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