Elections 2020FederalIssuesStatewide NewsProminent Races Show Texas Democrats More Reliant on Out of State Funding than Republicans

Efforts by Texas Democrats to make gains appear increasingly reliant on funding from outside the Lone Star state.
August 15, 2019
Political donations can be made to any candidate, from any individual, in any state. Federally, the limit is set at $2,700 per individual, per election (primary and general are considered separate elections). 

Last week, Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20) doxxed some private citizens within his own congressional district that contributed the maximum amount to President Trump’s campaign. This inspired some investigating into where candidates get their money.

Ahead of this upcoming election, candidates are already touting their early fundraising numbers in Texas. Where each gets their money may paint a picture on where they are receiving their support.

Below is an analysis of some high-profile Texas races and the first of what will be many more in-depth looks at political fundraising as The Texan evaluates the overall electoral landscape. Importantly, this data only focuses on donations of $200 and above.

In the upcoming Texas Senate race, incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)’s donations are interesting when compared to one of his potential Democrat challengers, MJ Hegar. Hegar is currently the highest-profile Democrat in an increasingly crowded field who has been in long enough to file a report from this past quarter.

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So far this cycle, Cornyn has received 5,266 donations according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Of those, 72.5 percent were from Texas and 27.5 percent are from outside of the state. Meanwhile, Hegar’s numbers are almost the exact opposite with only 27.5 percent coming from within Texas and the remaining 72.5 percent from elsewhere.

For added perspective, of those donations outside the state, two-thirds of Hegar’s donations came from either the east coast (CT, DC, DE, MA, ME, NH, NJ, NY, VA, and VT) or the west coast (CA, OR, and WA), whereas only 15.9 percent of Cornyn’s came from those states.

In the 2018 Senate race (which amounted to the most expensive U.S. Senate race in history), Beto O’Rourke’s $80 million outraised Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) by more than double. But nearly 70 percent of O’Rourke’s higher dollar contributions came from outside Texas.

For Cruz, only a slight majority of his FEC contributions (51.9 percent) came from outside Texas.

However, as the runner-up in the Republican presidential primary, Cruz had an established national fundraising apparatus, which may explain why most of his higher-dollar funding had come from outside the state.

As for the coastal areas, 52 percent of O’Rourke’s donations came the east and west coasts compared to 20.4 percent for Cruz.

In Hegar’s 2018 congressional run against incumbent Rep. John Carter (R-TX-31), 74.3 percent of her contributions came from out of state — slightly lower than her current ratio for U.S. Senate. Carter, meanwhile, received slightly more from native Texans than elsewhere at a ratio of 52.3 to 47.7 percent.

For Carter, 31.1 percent of that outside-the-state money came from the coastal states while two-thirds of Hegar’s came from the coastal states — keeping pace with her current run for senate.

This presents an interesting contrast between the two donor bases heading into the election. Add to that fact recent news that Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29), in this past quarter’s filing, did not have a single individual donor from her district.

Democrats across the country are revved up for the election, and with Texas’ solid red status up for debate, the Lone Star State is one on which their sights are set. Taking Texas would easily place the White House back under Democrat control — and so the money is flowing in from outside hoping to turn that dream into a reality.

The question is: can Republicans match that?

Only 446 days separate us from the answer.


Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.