AUSTIN, Texas — This election season, Texas political candidates are setting new records for spending. So, who's giving the most money to the state's top candidates?
For that answer, KVUE News turned to the Center for Responsive Politics, which has merged with the National Institute on Money in Politics to become OpenSecrets. Their researchers track donations to political candidates, including the top individual donors.
KVUE News first reported this data on Sept. 6, 2022, but a lot can – and has – changed in a month.
Texas governor's race
Throughout his political career, Gov. Greg Abbott is known for having a big war chest, and this election is no exception. As of Oct. 26, OpenSecrets shows the state's top Republican has had $141,538,000 contributed to his campaign. It's worth noting, some of that money is rolled over from previous elections. In fact, Abbott's campaign said he has raised $95 million this election season.
Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke has had $47,177,963 contributed to his campaign.
While some of this money is rolled over from previous campaigns or given by political action committees, most of the top contributions come from individual donors. Texas doesn't have contribution limits, so individuals can give as much money to a campaign as they want.
Top 5 individual donors: Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
As of Oct. 26, 2022, Gov. Abbott's top five individual donors are:
Oil and gas executive Javaid Anwar is Gov. Abbott's top individual donor. This election season he's donated $3,526,000 to Abbott's campaign.
Last month, KVUE News reported on the top donors to Gov. Abbott's campaign. Anwar was Abbott's top donor then, and in the month since our last report, Anwar donated more than $1 million additionally to Abbott.
Contractor James Pitcock, Jr. donated an additional $500,000 since KVUE's last report, bringing his total donations to roughly $2.7 million. Telecommunications specialist Kenny Troutt also made another donation to Abbott, bumping him up to the third-top donor on the list compared to last month.
Michael and Mary Porter, a Hill Country couple in livestock, remain in Abbott's top five donor list with their total contributions of $2 million. And new to Abbott's top five donor list is Bobby Cox, owner of multiple restaurant chains including Rosa's Cafe, with $1.6 million donated.
Back on Sept 6, 2022, KVUE News reported the top five individual donors to the Abbott campaign were:
Top 5 individual donors: Beto O'Rourke (D)
As of Oct. 26, 2022, Beto O'Rourke's top five individual donors are:
Beto O'Rourke's top five individual donor list is largely the same as it was when KVUE News first reported contributions in September but with a major exception; his top donors didn't make additional donations the way Gov. Abbott's did.
O'Rourke's top donor is still Tench Coxe, an Austin venture capitalist. Opensecrets reports Coxe gave O'Rourke $1,000 more since KVUE's last report last month. His wife, Simone Coxe, who is also in venture capital, didn't give any additional money but maintained her spot as one of the top donors with a total donation of $1,050,000.
Billionaire businessman and philanthropist George Soros has donated $1 million to O'Rourke. The next name on O'Rouke's top five list is new since KVUE's reporting in September. Sam Bankman-Fried, an entrepreneur and the CEO of crypto currency exchange company FTX, gave $1 million. His donation bumps Nancy Sanders, who is in real estate, down to fifth on O'Rourke's list with her donation of $135,000.
Back on Sept 6, 2022, KVUE News reported the top five individual donors to the O'Rourke campaign were:
At first glance, you may notice a significant difference in the amounts of money O'Rourke's top donors are giving compared to Gov. Abbott's. The donor at the top of O'Rourke's list didn't even give as much money as the fifth largest donor to Abbott's campaign. But one of the things that makes this race interesting is the number of supporters.
While O'Rourke's top donors didn't really give any additional money to his campaign since our first report, O'Rourke outraised Gov. Abbott in the last fundraising period. More than 474,000 people donated to O'Rourke between July 1 and Sept. 29, giving an average of just $53, according to the O'Rourke campaign. Compare that to Abbott, who raised almost the same amount of money but with just 45,000 donors – so less than a 10th of the contributors.
Top non-individual donors: Gov. Greg Abbott (R)
As of Sept. 13, 2022, Gov. Abbott's top non-individual donors are:
Auto dealer Gulf States Toyota/The Friedkin Group tops the list with it's total contribution of $675,000 to Gov. Greg Abbott. Lawyer and Lobbyist group HillCo Partners gave $593,150. Santa Rosa Ranches, a cattle breeder, $515,000. The Border Health Political Action Committee, which represents hospitals and nursing homes, gave $456,655. Advertiser Ryan LLC and William Scott 1991 Trust each gave $400,000.
Top 5 non-individual donors: Beto O'Rourke (D)
As of Sept. 13, 2022, Beto O'Rourke's top five non-individual donors are:
O'Rourke's top non-individual donor is his organization Powered by People. O'Rourke launched the policy group before announcing his run for governor. It gave the O'Rouke campaign about $1.7 million. Our Texas, a liberal policy organization, contributed $500,000. The American Federation of Teachers, an educator union, gave $300,000. Attorney group Williams Hart Boundas Easterby LLP donated $100,000 and Dallas attorneys Aldous Walker LLP gave $50,000.
Texas lieutenant governor's race
The 2022 race for Texas lieutenant governor is a rematch from 2018. Incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) will face off against Mike Collier (D), who came in at just five points under the top Republican four years ago.
So far this election year, Patrick has had $29,761,168 donated to his campaign while Collier has $4,305,862.
Top 5 individual donors: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R)
As of Oct. 27, Lt. Gov. Patrick's top five individual donors are:
CEO of a Houston-based construction company, Doug Pitcock, Jr., tops the list as one of Patrick's largest individual donor. He has not donated any additional money since KVUE's first report on campaign donors last month. That's also true for investor Douglas Scharbauer who has also donated $600,000 dollars to Patrick.
Since our September report, telecommunications executive Kenneth Troutt donated more money and bumped up to the third spot on Patrick's list with a total donation of $500,000. And new to Patrick's top five list this month is Gov. Greg Abbott's top donor, oil and gas executive Syed Javaid Anwar, who has now given Patrick $496,639. Rounding out Patrick's top five is Temple, Texas businessman Drayton McLane.
As of Sept. 7, Lt. Gov. Patrick's top five individual donors were:
Top 5 individual donors: Mike Collier (D)
As of Oct. 27, Mike Collier's top five individual donors are:
Since our September report, OpenSecrets shows Mike Collier's donations have increased by about $1.4 million, but his top individual donors are the same and most of them didn't give any additional money. The only exception is investor Stephen J. Davis who gave $10,000 more, tying his donation total with Stephen Davis, whose employment information is not available. Both have given $35,000.
It's worth noting, the first and second top donors have similar names, but the team at OpenSecrets, which tracks this data, has them listed as two different people. The other donors on Collier's list are the same and so are their donations. Venture investors Austin Ligon, Wayne Watts and Edward Allen III, who is in finance, have all donated a total of $25,000.
As of Sept. 7, Mike Collier's top five individual donors were:
While Collier has significantly less money than Patrick in this race it's interesting to note that the $1.4 million Collier raised recently didn't come from big one-time donors, but smaller donations. But Patrick was able to raise about $2.2 million in that same timeframe.
Top 5 non-individual donors: Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R)
As of Sept. 14, 2022, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's top non-individual donors are:
Lt. Gov. Patrick's list of the top five organizations, businesses and PACs that have donated to his campaign looks very similar to Governor Greg Abbott's. In fact, four of Patrick's top five donors on this list are also on Abbott's, starting with the Border Health Political Action Committee, which represents hospitals and nursing homes. The PAC has donated $450,000 to Patrick. Advertising and public relations firm Ryan LLC has contributed $300,000 to Patrick's campaign. Auto dealer Gulf States Toyota donated $325,000. The Associated General Contractors of Texas have given Patrick $291,750 and lobbyist and public relations firm HillCo Partners has donated $280,000.
Top non-individual donors: Mike Collier (D)
As of Sept. 14, 2022, Mike Collier's top five individual donors are:
Mike Collier has had significantly less money donated to his campaign from PACs, businesses and organizations compared to Lt. Gov. Patrick. The Texas Parent Political Action Committee, which advocates for public schools, is Collier's top non-individual donor, giving $5,000. Law firm David Bernsen PC, State Representative Chris Turner's campaign and former State Senator and congressional candidate Wendy Davis' campaign committee also each gave $5,000. The Texas AFL CIO, a labor union, donated $2,500 as did the Texas Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers.
Top non-individual donors
Texas attorney general race
This election cycle, Republican incumbent Ken Paxton has had $14,260,462 in campaign contributions, according to OpenSecrets. Democrat challenger Rochelle Garza, a newcomer to the political scene, has $2,737,631. These total numbers represent money rolled over from previous campaigns, funds given by political action committees and groups and money from individual donors.
Top individual donors: Attorney General Ken Paxton (R)
As of October 28, 2022, Attorney General Ken Paxton's top individual donors are:
AG Ken Paxton's top four donors also made the top donors lists for Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Investor Douglas Scharbauer is Paxton's top donor, donating $450,000 to his campaign. Telecommunications exec Kenny Troutt gave Paxton another $100,000 since our last report, raising his total to $400,000. Oil and gas exec Syed Javaid Anwar also donated another $100,000, making his total donation to Paxton $245,000. Michael Porter, a Hill Country resident in the livestock industry, gave Paxton $150,000 and four people gave Paxton $100,000 each -- investors Darwin Deason and Amanda Schumacher, Montgomery Bennett who is in the hospitality industry and tech CEO Holly Frost.
As of Sept. 8, 2022, Attorney General Ken Paxton's top five individual donors are:
Top individual donors: Rochelle Garza (D)
As of Oct. 28, 2022, Rochelle Garza's top five individual donors are:
Rochelle Garza has significantly less money than Paxton, but since out last report last month, she's raised more than $1.6 million. Her top donor list changed slightly, but Edward Allen, who works in finance, is still her top donor with $25,000. Isabel Welland, who's employment information isn't available, also gave $25,000 as did Lynne Dobson, a photojounalist and minority owner of the family business -- Whataburger. Eliot Horowitz, who is the chief technology officer for a data firm, donated $20,000 and so did Tomas Torres, who's employment information isn't available.
As of Sept. 8, 2022, Rochelle Garza's top five individual donors are:
Top 5 non-individual donors: Attorney General Ken Paxton (R)
As of Sept. 15, 2022, Attorney General Ken Paxton's top five non-individual donors are:
The Republican Attorneys General Association, a conservative policy organization, donated $250,000 to AG Paxton's 2022 campaign. THRC Holdings LP, which industry information isn't listed, gave $200,000 this election cycle. A PAC made up of republican state-level politicians called Defend Texas Liberty gave $150,000. Advertising and public relations firm Ryan LLC, a top donor for the top republican offices, gave Paxton's campaign $100,000. And HillCo Partners, a lobbyist and public relations group donated $85,893 to Paxton.
Top non-individual donors: Rochelle Garza (D)
As of Sept. 15, 2022, Rochelle Garza's top non-individual donors are:
Overall, Attorney Rochelle Garza's top campaign donors are PACs. Emily's List, a pro-choice political action committee, donated $77,500 to Garza. Annie's List, another pro-choice PAC, gave $36,713. Garza's congressional campaign committee from her brief run to represent Brownsville in the U.S. House of Representatives donated $35,225 to Garza's AG campaign. Way To Lead, a liberal policy organization, donated 7,600 and Texas AFL CIO, the Latino Victory Project and Avow, a pro-choice PAC, all donated 5-thousand dollars.
While money isn't everything, it certainly is a critical part of winning an election and it is clear: Texas democrats have a funding challenge ahead of them to keep up with the republican incumbents they want to replace.
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