This is going to surprise you. It surprises me. In the most hotly contested races in the state, many Democratic candidates hold substantial leads over their Republican opponents in fundraising. Of course, Craddick has $3 million ($2,998,784.92, to be exact) to distribute, and his modus operandi has been to spend it late, when it is hard for the other side to respond. He can give 30 members $100,000 each. All figures represent cash on hand with thirty days to go.
Let’s start with what I regard as the fifteen most competitive races in the state. The candidate with the fundraising edge appears first.
Barrett (D) $113,548.59 vs. Shelton (R) $86,669.28 (Fort Worth). Barrett, who won Anna Mowery’s former seat, a Republican district, in a special election, is regarded as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent.
Maldonado (D) $278,368.50 vs. Daniel (R) $19,142.36 (Round Rock). Maldonado’s lead in fundraising in the battle for Mike Krusee’s old seat is stunning. It’s going to cost Craddick a wad of money to get Daniel competitive in the money game.
Turner (D) $186,464.02 vs. Zedler (R) $134,160.57 (Arlington). Zedler is the D’s top target.
Garcia (D) $289,943.99 vs. Hunter (R) $188,537.15 (Corpus Christi). Garcia is the second most vulnerable Democrat.
Goolsby (R) $281,079.82 vs. Kent (D) $177,691.79 (Dallas). The surprise here is how well Kent is doing.
Margo (R) $195,189.20 vs. Moody (D) $103,111.84 (El Paso). Pat Haggerty’s soon-to-be former district is a “must-hold” for Republicans. Moody has not performed up to expectations.
Vaught (D) $102,342.35 vs. Keffer (R) $77,477.78 (Dallas). A must-hold for Democrats after Vaught’s upset victory in 06.
Dippel (D) $79,253.96 vs. Kleinschmidt (R) $28,988.73 (La Grange). Republicans regard Robbie Cook’s seat as a likely pickup.
Redmond (D) $90,445.56 vs. Legler (R) $14,276.07 (Pasadena). This is the seat Robert Talton gave up to run for Congress.
Vo (D) $54,233.08 vs. Meyers (R) $37,069.55 (Houston). This would be an easy D hold, except that Vo has gotten awful publicity as a slumlord.
Hopson (D) $169,434,62 vs. Walker (R) $74,687.74 (Jacksonville). In East Texas, Hopson’s real opponent is Barack Obama.
Homer (D) $257,405.07 vs. Hollingsworth (R) $104,496.12 (Paris). This is the 3rd time Hollingsworth has challenged Homer. Obama will be a factor here too.
Murphy (R) $169,293.56 vs. Thibaut (D) $102,982.02 Houston). This is one of several Harris County seats D’s hope will fall into their laps if Obama has coattails.
Herrero (D) $95,081.05 vs. Scott (R) $61,422.60 (Corpus Christi). R’s think Scott, a tort reform advocate, has a shot at an upset here, backed by anti-trial lawyer money.
Matula (D) $136,934.03 vs. Davis (R) $62,046.25 (Houston). D’s hope a combination of Davis’s ethics problems and Obama’s coattails will produce an upset.
The bottom line: In twelve of the fifteen most competitive races, Democrats hold the lead in fundraising.
This raises interesting questions for Craddick. How does he allocate his money when his candidates are lagging behind in fundraising. Take the Daniel-Maldonado race. Does he pour resources into Daniel’s race, or does he throw Daniel under the bus and focus on races where Republicans are more competitive? Does he write off Donna Keel, his parliamentarian’s sister-in-law, and try to bail out Zedler, who isn’t worth saving? Craddick’s $3 million will go a long way, but a lot of his horses have a long way to go.