HD 49 War Chests

Money can't buy an election, but it definitely improves your negotiating position. With early voting imminent in the House District 49 Democratic primary, candidates are gathering money quickly, but spending with caution.

On Feb. 2, Gina Hinojosa's campaign issued a giddy press release saying that their candidate had outraised her nearest challenger, Heather Way, by a two-to-one margin. However, that claim comes with small print: It's only for money raised in the first three weeks of January. Way got a much more impressive start, and since fundraising started in December she's actually outraised Hinojosa. Hinojosa has actually beaten the third-place money raiser, Huey Rey Fischer, by that two-to-one margin, but his $32,000 haul is impressive for a 23-year-old with no deep pockets.

Re-enforcing their image as also-rans, the trio of Aspen Dunaway, Kenton Johnson, and Matt Shrum have each reported under $10,000 in contributions. A little more surprising is Blake Rocap, who has been one of the more high-profile candidates, but has raised less than $4,000 from supporters.

Hinojosa also leads the field in cash on hand, but only because of a $75,000 loan to herself. Way has loaned herself $55,000, but both figures are dwarfed by Rocap's investment in himself: a whopping $100,000. So far, the candidates combined are borrowing over a quarter of a million dollars from their private finances, and only two of the seven – Fischer and Shrum – aren't subsidizing their campaigns through loans. And Shrum's campaign is only afloat because he's directly spent $7,750 of his own cash.

So with two weeks to go before the primary, the top contenders are raiding their own savings, and sitting on impressive war chests. But don't expect fortunes to be pumped into direct mailers and robocalls before March 1. With seven candidates, it seems highly unlikely that there will be a clear winner, meaning a long haul and months' more spending before a run-off on May 26.

It's All About the Money

Campaign Finance Reports for Democratic House District 49 Primary

All numbers as of Jan. 21 via Texas Ethics Commission.

* As of press time, Shrum had not filed his report for the period Jan. 1-21.

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