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On the matter of money

This story is about the strong desire among Dems for Sen. Wendy Davis to run for Governor, but it touches on a subject that inevitably comes up whenever the subject is running statewide in Texas.

Sen. Wendy Davis

Sen. Wendy Davis

A campaign for governor would cost $30 million to $40 million, said [Matt] Angle. Davis raised $4 million for her last re-election bid, he said. That was before she gained national prominence with her Senate filibuster against tighter state abortion restrictions.

Since then, she’s had appearances and raised money inside and outside Texas. Her latest campaign finance report showed she had raised $933,000 in the last two weeks in June – including more than 15,000 contributions of $250 or less – and had just over $1 million in cash on hand.

She also got some sizable donations, notably $50,000 from Annie’s List, which is dedicated to electing “progressive Democratic women” and launched WeWantWendyDavis.com this week; and $100,000 from Fort Worth oil man Sid Bass.

But she will need a lot more if she seeks the Democratic nomination for governor. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the top contender for the GOP nod to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, reported cash on hand of nearly $21 million. He’s sure to raise much more.

Political scientist Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University said a credible race could be run for something over $20 million – “the low 20s” – still a big number for a Texas Democrat.

“Texas Democrats over the last 20 years or so have been famous for their short little arms that are good for clapping, but never reach their wallet,” Jillson said.

Just for grins, I went back and took a look at all of Bill White’s finance reports from 2010, since no one questioned his ability to raise money, to see how much he actually did raise over the course of his gubernatorial campaign. Here are the amounts raised from each of his finance reports:

Filing Raised ===================== Jan 2010 6,216,933 Feb 30 day 755,067 Feb 8 day 2,221,666 JUly 2010 7,447,799 Oct 30 day 4,687,096 Oct 8 day 3,698,631 Jan 2011 1,241,875

Note that the January 2011 report includes donations made between the reporting deadline for the 8 day report and Election Day. Add this all up and it comes out to just over $26 million, $26,269,067 to be annoyingly precise. Whatever you thought about the White campaign, they had a full statewide presence and ran plenty of TV ads. I’ve not heard anyone claim they ran on a shoestring. Things are likely a bit more expensive now, but this is a reasonable ballpark. Note that unlike White, Davis has had a huge run of national press leading up to her (presumed) campaign announcement, and would go into this race with much higher name ID than White had; I’ve lost the cite for this, but I could swear I saw a recent poll that suggested she has higher name ID right now than Greg Abbott does. That has a lot of value. Be all that as it may, I am not worried about Davis’ ability to fundraise for this race. If she gets in, she’ll get the resources she’ll need. Jillson has a point, but I don’t believe it will apply in this case.

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