It’s worth spending some time perusing the Texas Tribune’s revealing graph tracking candidates’ ad buys in the major markets of the state. Of the various graphs reflecting candidates’ network TV expenditures leading up to the March 4 primary elections, the most significant one was the comparison between Hegar and Hilderbran in the race for comptroller.
Hegar has almost a ten-to-one advantage over Hilderbran with time running out. Debra Medina has not spent money on network ad buys in these markets (the data do not include cable networks or smaller markets, for example), but I still think she will be a significant factor in the race for comptroller nonetheless, due to her residual name ID from her 2010 race for governor. She may win enough votes to throw the race into a runoff.
Dan Patrick’s fundraising success in the lieutenant governor’s race was eye-opening. He has spent $1.8 million on ad buys, with $900,000 in Dallas, $600,000 in Houston, and more than $350,000 in San Antonio (he spent zero dollars in Austin). The candidate spending the most money is Dan Branch, whose advantage in the race for attorney general was to be expected. He had more than $4 million stashed away early in the campaign. He has spent more than $1.9 million in four markets. Notwithstanding Branch’s fundraising lead in the AG’s race, his rivals – Ken Paxton, Barry Smitherman – are no pushovers. This race too is destined for a runoff as well. March 4 is the undercard, but May 27 is the main event.