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Kendra Yarbrough Camarena

Here comes the late money

The 8 days out finance reports are in, and it’s about what you’d expect.

Millions of dollars poured into Texas legislative campaigns during the past month as interest groups tried to maximize their influence and partisans readied for the upcoming fight over the redrawing of House and Senate districts.

Those millions, predominantly from business owners and trial lawyers, have allowed candidates in the Austin area and across the state to clog the television airwaves with their closing pitches before Tuesday’s election.

“Money flows late because late money follows the races that are being run effectively,” said Republican consultant Ted Delisi. “Because we have two weeks of early voting and we have a lot of polling, you can understand which campaigns are gaining traction and which ones aren’t, so you’re not betting blindly.”

Big-dollar donors and interest groups also give late so that the donors themselves don’t become lightning rods in the campaigns. Candidates did not have to publicly disclose contributions they received after Sept. 23 until Monday, when early voting was more than halfway over.

“The general consensus among operatives is, it’s too late to do anything with it,” Delisi said. “The election is 30 to 35 percent over right now.”

Yeah, this is the time to do the stuff you’re least proud of, because the potential for blowback decreases greatly with each passing day. There’s stuff about particular races in that story, and the DMN and EoW have more. As I didn’t see anything specific to Harris County, I figured I’d spot check a few races here to see who’s getting what. Here are the amounts raised since the 30 day reports:

Kristi Thibaut, $119,649
Jim Murphy, $172,222

Ellen Cohen, $100,279
Sarah Davis, $69,116

Dwayne Bohac, $113,955
Kendra Yarbrough Camarena, $36,815

Ken Legler, $178,299
Rick Molina, $85,969

Legler also collected $184,885 as of the 30 days out report after only taking in $82,135 for the first six months of the year. I’ve heard a rumble or two that he’s in a tighter race than originally thought. Make of this what you will.

Hubert Vo, $109,135
Jack O’Connor, $183,938

O’Connor is a great example of how the late money train works. Almost $170,000 of that total comes from five sources:

– Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund, $40,000 cash
– Conservative Republicans of Texas, approximately $35,000 in kind
– Republican Party of Texas, $23,000 cash plus another $2,066 in kind
– Robert Rowling of Irving, TN (that’s Tennessee, not Texas), $25,000 cash
– Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, $40,000 cash plus $2,300 in kind

All for a guy who had raised about $65,000 on his own all year. He’s not the only one, of course – Legler got $125,000 from Speaker Straus. Murphy got a lot of assorted PAC money plus $25,000 from the Republican Party of Texas Texas Victory State Account plus a $9200 mailer from the RPT, $20,000 from Bob Perry, $10,500 from three members of the Trammel Crow family in Dallas, and $10,000 from TLR. Bohac also got help from the Speaker, $25,000 worth. I didn’t notice any other donations larger than $5K for him, nor did I see anything of the magnitude noted here for Davis. Again, draw your own conclusions about who sees what opportunities and threats.

Finally, on a tangential note, one unfamiliar name I saw in four of the five Republican reports (all but O’Connor) was a Curtis Mewbourne, of Mewbourne Oil, who handed out 16 donations of $5K each to various legislative candidates (plus a $75K gift to David Dewhurst) since September 24, all but two (incumbents Joe Heflin and Mark Homer) to Republicans. I note his name for future reference, since you know that sooner or later there’ll be some pro quo for all that quid.

Interview with Kendra Yarbrough Camarena

Kendra Yarbrough Camarena

Texas Democrats have made large gains in the Legislature this decade, picking up a total of 12 seats in the last three election cycles. One of the top targets the party has identified for this cycle is HD138, currently held by Rep. Dwayne Bohac. He’s being challenged by Kendra Yarbrough Camarena, who is an 8th grade social studies teacher and the daughter of former Rep. Ken Yarbrough, who represented HD138 before Bohac. She is a lifetime resident of the district and was one of the top fundraising challengers in the last reporting period, collecting over $100K. Here’s what we talked about:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

Fundraising: Harris County State Reps

I’ve collected fundraising reports for Harris County State Rep races of interest; they’re all beneath the fold. Here are the highlights:

– In the rubber match between State Rep. Kristi Thibaut in HD133 and former State Rep. Jim Murphy, Thibaut has a slight lead in fundraising – she collected $116K to Murphy’s $112K – and cash on hand, $150K to $125K. I’m actually a little surprised there wasn’t more money raised in this race, but I figure by the time it’s all done at least double the amount raised so far will have been hauled in.

– Ellen Cohen has a commanding lead over Sarah Davis. Cohen took in $230K and has $265K on hand. Davis collected $54K, but thanks to a total of $114K in loans, all coming from Kent and Edie Adams beginning with the January 15 reporting period, she has $103K on hand.

– In HD138, Kendra Yarbrough Camarena did well, raising $106K, with $120K on hand. Dwayne Bohac clearly wasn’t taking any chances, as he raked in $201K, with $228K on hand.

– Possibly the biggest surprise was in HD144, where challenger Rick Molina out-raised first-term incumbent Ken Legler, $92K to $82K, and also held more cash, $23,597 to $11,545. It’s not clear to me why Molina’s COH figure isn’t higher, since he only spent $36K; Legler spent almost as much as he raised, $81K in all.

– As of last night, the reports for Hubert Vo and Jack O’Connor in HD149 were not available. According to the explanation, “the Ethics Commission may not make a report filed with the Commission available on the Internet unless all candidates and related specific-purpose political committees in a race have filed. To date, all reports in this race have not been filed. Therefore, this report is not currently viewable.” Note that there is a Libertarian candidate in this race as well. I’ll add these reports to the post when I find them.

As I said, other races of interest are posted below. Overall, I’d say the Democratic candidates have done a good job, with Republicans other than Legler and his puzzling cash shortage in decent shape, too. With no Congressional races of interest, and the County Judge race not evenly matched early on, these may be the highest profile contests in the county this year.

UPDATE: Vo and O’Connor’s totals are in. Vo raised $15K and has $37K on hand. He’s always done some self-funding, and has $95K in loans outstanding. O’Connor took in $12K and has $6500 on hand, but those numbers are a bit misleading. $10K of O’Connor’s contributions were two $5K in-kind donations, each for a month’s rent. He also reported $6K in a loan to himself on his detailed report, but for some odd reason that didn’t show up in the summary.

(more…)

One more from Annie’s List

Annie’s List announced their first endorsed candidate for 2010 over the weekend. Now they have a second, and she’s in Houston. From their email:

Annie’s List is proud to announce our endorsement of Kendra Yarbrough Camarena for State House District 138 in Houston. Kendra is a life-long resident of the district that includes Spring Branch, Garden Oaks and the Oak Forest areas of Northwest Houston outside of Loop 610.

She is also a mother of two beautiful children, a highly regarded middle school teacher, a volunteer little league coach for her son’s team (Go Cardinals!), a life member of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, a former member of the SDEC and certainly no stranger to the rough and tumble world of politics. Her father, Ken Yarbrough, held this seat in the 90’s, and while earning her degree at the University of Texas, she worked in the Capitol for an East Texas Democrat.

In recent elections, Democratic candidates have won increased support in HD-138 and Sheriff Adrian Garcia carried the district last year with 52.8% of the vote. And, hometown Democrats like Senator John Whitmire and J.P. David Patronella typically run well ahead of the Democratic ticket in the middle class swing precincts. It is also worth mentioning that Democrats actually perform better in non-presidential elections here where Republican straight ticket voting advantage is nullified.

Additionally, tremendous demographic changes are occurring in this portion of Houston (now a combined minority Voting Age Population over 50%), and mobile young professionals and GLBT families (getting priced out of the Heights and Montrose) are revitalizing older neighborhoods just outside Loop 610. All of that combined with the fact that the Republican incumbent, Dwayne Bohac, has never been forced to defend his extremist record against a well funded, hometown Democratic challenger, and it is pretty clear this race can be won.

Bohac has had challengers in the last two elections, Mark McDavid in 2006 and Ginny McDavid last year, but neither had any real funding. He also ran better than the average Republican in his district in each of those years, and he’s got strong ties to the district as well. And as for the assertion about straight ticket voting, I took a look at the 2008 and 2006 numbers, and this is what I got:

Year Straight R Straight D R Pct Bohac McDavid Bohac % ============================================================= 2006 5,412 3,975 57.7 7,087 4,308 62.2 2008 11,699 9,521 55.1 9,929 5,497 64.4

Those are the straight-ticket vote numbers in HD138, and the Bohac/McDavid numbers with the straight-ticket tallies subtracted. Dems actually closed the straight ticket gap somewhat last year, which I think is a tribute to the overall HCDP county coordinated effort. But by the same token, Bohac won a higher percentage of the ticket splitters in 2008 than he did in 2006. Convincing those voters to switch will need to be as big a part of this effort as getting out the base Democratic vote.

There’s an ActBlue page for Camarena, and Annie’s List will be matching contributions through June 30. They’re definitely out of the gate early, so we’ll see how successful the effort is to get a jump on fundraising.