The Roots of Texas House Races

It is amazing to me how candidates for the Texas House on the GOP side of things STILL don’t seem to have any meaningful grassroots support flowing into their campaign. Is there a lot of money coming in? Yeah, but it’s coming from the massive donors and PACs, not regular people.

Let’s run through an example. Here is Jeff Leach in House District 67. He took in $1,708,915 from 09/25–10/24. You would think he must be getting lots of love from “the people”. Nope, that all came from 188 donors. 9 of them gave 90+% of his total.

Look closely at the list of donors to Jeff Leach (HD67). 9 of 10 are PACs, + the gov.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform was 1, giving a whopping $749k (after giving $130k on the 30 day report). Lots of Texans must want lawsuit reform in order to be able to give that much, right?

Texans for Lawsuit Reform is a PAC that has had $16m poured into it this cycle, coming from 899 contributors. Only 55 have given $200 or less. The average contribution is $14,048. The median contribution is $2,500. This isn’t a PAC about stepping up for the common person.

Well what about the Republican State Leadership Committee? They are Jeff Leach’s number 2 donor, giving $378k on this filing. With so many Republicans in this state, surely this must be where they are giving their money, and that is how it’s being distributed out to candidates.

Yeah, Republican State Leadership Committee isn’t grassroots at all. They have taken in $20m this cycle from a mere 98 donors. And it helps when Sheldon and Miriam Adelson give $9m to get things rolling. Please note there are several of the Texans for Lawsuit Reform donors here.

We’ve got the Governor at 3, giving $101k, and then Leading Texas Forward PAC at 4 on Jeff Leach’s contributor list, who gave $75k. Is Leading Texas Forward where all the grassroots Republicans have decided to give their hard earned dollars to support candidates they believe in?

Nope, the Leading Texas Forward PAC isn’t grassroots either. It’s got 109 contributors, but it’s pretty much just people writing $100k checks, candidate campaigns and corporate PACs. Just 1 donor who gave $200 or less.

The Texas Latino Conservatives PAC is 13 on Leach’s list, giving $5,214 this report, but I want to highlight this one. This PAC has taken in $637k this cycle. Are they grassroots? NOPE. It’s just a bunch of people from Texans for Lawsuit Reform disguising their money. 54 donors.

You may have read to here and be thinking, yeah, “But what about the Democrats! I’m sure George Soros has been kicking in millions!” Well, let’s dig in there. Here is the chart for Lorenzo Sanchez, also running for HD67. $1.2m from 28,820 donors Avg of $36 with a $2 median

Ah, you noticed that the top of Sanchez’s donor chart is PACs too, just like for Jeff Leach. Yeah, it’s true. But let’s look at those PACs, just like we did before. Top donor is the Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee ($364k). Do you think they might have some grassroots?

The Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee took in $10.2m so far this cycle. From 7,733 contributors. Median contribution is $25. Are there some really big donors? Yep But are there a lot of people who believe in that PAC enough to give even $25? You bet.

So what about the Texas Values in Action Coalition PAC, the 2 donor on Lorenzo Sanchez’s chart? They gave $193k. Are they supported by the grassroots? Not really. The PAC is $630k overall, with $500k from Texans for Insurance Reform, and only total 9 donors.

Not great.

How about that third donor on Lorenzo’s chart, the Future Now Fund PAC, who gave $125k? Are they more like the Texas HDCC or Texas Values in Action?

The Future Now Fund PAC has taken in $7.5m this cycle from 8,948 donors. They have an average of $641 and a median of $100. Some big donors, lots of small ones.

Let’s check out the 4th biggest contributor to Lorenzo Sanchez, the Flippable — Texas Victory Fund PAC. They gave $77k. Will Flippable be grassroots?

Yeah, Flippable — Texas Victory Fund PAC looks to be grassroots. They have taken in $1m from 8,670 contributors. Their average contribution is $66 with a median of $10.

If you look at 2018 v 2020 on HD67 races, you see how things have changed. 2018 contributors and contributions:

  • Democrat had 96 contributors giving $4,675

2020

  • Democrat had 28,820 contributors giving $1.2m

And the thing is, it isn’t just me trying to pick on Jeff Leach or praise Lorenzo Sanchez because they are “unique”. This same scenario is playing out all over the state in competitive races. Here is the 18 v 20 chart in the 17 races Republicans won by 10 points or less in 2018.

There is almost no grassroots support for any of these Republican candidates. Just big donors and their PACs swooping in to try and maintain their status quo. 1,610 donors and $16m for 17 races. I mean come on. I think the people may have decided it’s time we shake it up.

Addendum

This was originally posted as a thread on twitter. One of the respondents to the thread is a partner with Murphy Nasica, a political consulting firm. They have taken in millions from exactly the PACs and donors I was talking about, selling you a propaganda story, that somehow the people they represent are grassroots. They aren’t.

It seems their take is “but these are all people from Texas so therefore they are good and others are bad”. And I guess that has to be their take, as their candidates and PACs don’t actually see large numbers of small donors. From anywhere. The reports from the TEC spell it out.

Transparency of the money in our politics is essential. It allows you to see who is behind a candidate, a PAC, and who is getting paid to spin a fable of grassroots ascendency, when they are really just protecting the power of the very few. Knowledge is power. Go #Vote!

All of the data in my charts is pulled directly from the Texas Ethics Commission. You can run your own data on specific Texas state level candidates at my site, christackettnow.com. If you like what I’m doing, consider signing up to help support the work, at https://www.patreon.com/christackettnow. Chipping in a little helps keep it free for everyone.

I chart Texas Politics at christackettnow.com and write about things that matter (to me at least) whenever the muse hits.

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