Large war chests signify 'campaigns of the most professional caliber'



Posted on July 16, 2010 at 5:52 PM

AUSTIN – While Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White leads incumbent Gov. Rick Perry in the fund raising race, experts believe both candidates have plenty of cash to pour into a highly-visible and highly coordinated months-long campaign for your vote.

Perry reports about $6 million of cash-on-hand while White claims $9 million ready to spend, according to mandatory finance reports filed by each campaign with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Sean Rima, the afternoon host at Austin talk radio station KXBT-FM “The Big Talker”, is looking forward to lively debate on his drive-time show.

"Watching two heavyweights like Perry and White duke it out is going to be fun,” he said.

The station's sales manager, Jay Wachs, is hoping the wave of cash into the candidates’ coffers will bring a big spike in sales.

“If it's a gubernatorial campaign, or a senatorial campaign, that spike could be as much as 20 to 30 percent,” Wachs said. “Politicians are learning the more they spend on broadcast, they more likely they are to capture somebody's attention.”

Radio and television stations across the state are looking forward to both campaigns pouring cash into commercials and air-time, but with war chests this big, the campaigns won't just be hitting the airwaves, they will be hitting on all cylinders, according to veteran Texas political watchers.

“We are going to see a no-holds-barred campaign; by air, by land, by sea,” said Sherri Greenberg, Ph.D., a former Austin state representative who now teaches at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Policy at the University of Texas.

“We are talking about campaigns that are of the most professional caliber,” she said. “Both of them. Absolutely."

Democrat White’s campaign has been heralded by Texas Democrats as their best chance in years to regain statewide elected office. A Democrat has not held statewide office in Texas since the 1990s.

Though Perry has held a steady lead over White, the match-up remains competitive according to polls. The campaigns have also been the focus of intense interest from across the state.

The interest continues.

After the campaigns file their finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission, the ethics commission then posts them online. Interest in both candidates’ filings has been so intense, parts of the ethics commission website crashed on Friday.

Back at the KXBT they are hoping that is another sign of a strong season for their listeners.

“They tend to be very political, they tend to be very well read, and for them politics is like sports,” said radio host Rima.

This sport has many periods left to play. The recent campaign finance reports filed late Thursday are only a snapshot of where the campaigns stand now. There are many months and many fund-raising events between now and November.

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