A Big Money Battle Is Brewing For Control Of The Texas House

Two west Texas oilmen have their eyes on a handful of House races.

By Alexandra HartMay 17, 2018 3:54 pm, ,

Runoff election day is coming up next Tuesday, and early voting is already underway to determine 2018 primary winners.

The major races, like the one for governor, are raking in fewer campaign contributions than you might expect. Bob Garrett, Austin reporter for the Dallas Morning News, says there are some interesting patterns among GOP donors – namely a handful of Republican runoff matches where the money’s pouring in.

“What you’re seeing is the battle for the future of the Texas Legislature, which translates to which side controls the Texas House,” Garrett says. “As you know, the movement conservatives, Tea Party conservatives, ultraconservatives – choose your label – they’ve taken over the Texas Senate. The governor, Greg Abbott, seems to be unwilling or unable to defy the Texas Senate, so the focus of attention has shifted to the House, where Joe Straus, the speaker, is retiring, and there is a battle to maintain his coalition’s power, which is certainly under challenge from forces that are very well funded by two West Texas oilmen.”

Garrett says fracking billionaire Farris Wilks and Midland oilman Tim Dunn are behind two well-funded conservative PACs, Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life, that are focused now on a handful of House races.

“Just in the latest period, which was 10 weeks and five days, it was $3.5 million to these 14 Republican House candidates,” he says. “What really struck my eye, having just looked at the Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ finance reports was how 10 of these 14 had raised more than either Lupe Valdez or Andrew White.”

Written by Jen Rice.