Naked City

Big backers place their bets for Gov's race

Big business and home-building interests represented the lion's share of contributions to Gov. Rick Perry's campaign coffers in June, while trial lawyers and racetrack interests put their money on Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn in the governor's race.

The latest campaign filings with the Texas Ethics Commission show Perry out-raised his Republican rival during a 10-day period in June, with the incumbent raking in $2.3 million to Strayhorn's $1.5 million – a personal best for Strayhorn, according to her campaign. Perry enters the new reporting cycle with $8 million in the bank while Strayhorn's cash on hand totals $7 million.

Most of Perry's donations hailed from the usual sources. San Antonio archconservative millionaire James Leininger contributed $50,000, as did Dallas business tycoon H. Ross Perot, and Austin philanthropist/former Dell executive Mort Topfer. Houston home-builder Bob Perry (no relation) and wife Doylene Perry kicked in $100,000.

Strayhorn took in several large contributions from trial lawyers, including Beaumont attorney Walter Umphrey, who gave $100,000. Horse breeders and racetrack operators also gave generously, thanks to Strayhorn's support of expanding the state's gambling options to include slot machines at racetracks. Contributions from this base included $25,000 from horse breeder and Schlotzsky's chairman Bobby Cox, and $25,000 apiece from Dallas real estate magnate Trammell Crow and son Harlan Crow. The Crow real estate portfolio has included stakes in racetracks over the years.

Democrat Chris Bell, a potential gubernatorial candidate, has some catching up to do if he intends to run. His latest filing shows him with just $10,741 in available cash.

In other campaign finance reports, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst reported raising $444,000 and spending $1.4 million. He's sitting on $7.2 million in available cash. Attorney General Greg Abbott raised $741,000, spent $186,000, and has $3.7 million in cash on hand. Agriculture Commissioner Susan Combs, who is running for state comptroller, reported raising $838,421, which gives her a $2.4 million cushion going into the next reporting period.

State lawmakers were prohibited from fundraising during the regular legislative session, which ended in May. But at least three members of the local delegation could face viable opposition next year. Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos, with $79,000 in the bank, could draw a primary challenge from former Austin Mayor Kirk Watson, who is considering a possible run, starting with $8,300 in available cash. GOP Rep. Todd Baxter, with $60,024 in cash on hand, will again face a Democratic opponent in next year's District 48 race. Similarly, Democratic Rep. Mark Strama, with $135,000 in available cash, is expected to face a Republican opponent in his first re-election effort in District 50.

Oops! The following correction ran in our July 29, 2005 issue: A "Naked City" item about gubernatorial candidates' campaign coffers said Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has a total of $5.7 million cash on hand. Strayhorn's campaign actually has $7 million in the bank.

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State elections, Rick Perry, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, David Dewhurst, Bobby Cox, Greg Abbott, Susan Combs, Gonzalo Barrientos, Kirk Watson, Mark Strama, Todd Baxter, Chris Bell, Trammell Crow, Harlan Crow, Bob Perry, Walter Umphrey, H. Ross Perot, Mort Topfer, James Leininger

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