Both candidates in the race for governor have raised $11 million since late February. In the race for lieutenant governor, the Democratic candidate beat out the heavily-favored Republican nominee in fundraising over the last campaign finance reporting period. To some that could appear to be a watershed moment in Texas politics for red state Democrats, but The Austin American-Statesman's chief political writer Jonathan Tilove says the moment is a bit misleading, if not one-sided.
“[Money] can’t always decide the race but in a state where one party already has such a huge advantage, it compounds that advantage," Tilove says. Texas has long been a red state and – despite recent Democratic efforts to turn the state blue – Texas “is so large, and turnout is so low” that warchest can be used on campaign advertisements and marketing, giving them a wider reach in a races that, so far, hasn't captured the attention of the public at large.
In the race for lieutenant governor, Tilove adds, Dan Patrick’s tact as a fundraiser gives him a chance to outspend opponent Leticia Van De Putte because, despite the excitement surrounding her campaign, she’s underfunded. Patrick just won a fiscally and politically taxing primary runoff against incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, but he won’t have any problem replenishing that this year, Tilove says.
“It’s a misleading moment in time,” he says. “I think [Van De Putte] was able to make the claim, accurately, that in the five weeks since [Patrick] was nominated she raised a little bit more money than he did. And, I think, that indicates there is some backlash against the possibility of Patrick being lieutenant governor, but it’s still not going to give her the kind of resources that she needs to get known.
While Tilove says the fundraising advantage could spell certain doom for the Democrats in November, he admits Republican victories aren't necessarily foregone conclusions.
“ I’m always ready to be surprised,” he says.