George P. Bush tops Patterson in fundraising in land commissioner race


Bush has almost $3.4 million in campaign money; off to a late start, Patterson has $95,452 but hopes to rally.

GOP primary for agriculture commissioner is much closer in fundraising as March 6 election nears.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush significantly out-raised Republican primary challenger and former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson in the last half of 2017, campaign finance reports filed this week show.

Bush’s campaign raised $1 million, leaving him with almost $3.4 million in the bank at the end of the year.

Patterson, a three-term land commissioner who entered the race late, collected $89,465 in contributions during the last three weeks of December. He also lent his campaign $20,000, leaving him with $95,452 on hand in the same period.

“I’m not satisfied with the number,” Patterson told the American-Statesman on Wednesday, “but I’m pleased that over the Christmas holiday, over a very short period of time, we managed to put some money in the bank.”

Patterson said he hopes to raise about $250,000 in campaign contributions before the primary.

READ: Andrew White outpaces Lupe Valdez in Democrats’ money race for governor

“That should be enough to put us in a runoff, and I think in a runoff that Commissioner Bush is toast,” he said. “When you have a runoff, it’s the motivated, informed, grass-roots, smaller subset of primary voters that are going to go vote. I don’t think he comes out on top no matter how much money he has.”

Patterson has criticized Bush’s oversight of a $450 million project to renovate the area surrounding the Alamo, as well as his handling of Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Bush has rejected the Alamo concerns and blamed federal bureaucracy for the slow hurricane relief response.

Bush campaign manager Ash Wright said the land commissioner enters the primary with more cash on hand than at any point in his political career.

“This includes raising more than $1 million from more than 625 contributions, and we are continuing to see huge numbers of contributions coming even every day this month. This shows that conservatives are already voting with their dollars and overwhelmingly supporting Commissioner Bush,” Wright said.

Davey Edwards, another Republican candidate for land commissioner, reported raising $5,149, while GOP candidate Rick Range’s filing has not yet appeared on the Texas Ethics Commission website.

Another statewide official facing a GOP primary challenger, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, also out-raised his opponent but ended the year with less in the bank.

Miller reported raising $106,646 in the last half of 2017 and had $402,000 in cash on hand. He also lent his campaign $300,000, according to his finance report.

Challenger Trey Blocker, a conservative podcaster and former lobbyist, raised $49,950 but had $487,363 on hand at year’s end. Blocker, who had previously lent his campaign $750,000, pumped an additional $350,000 of his money into the effort in the last half of 2017.

Attorney General Ken Paxton, who faces no primary opponent on March 6, reported raising almost $775,000 in the second half of 2017, leaving his campaign with $5.7 million in the bank as he campaigns for a second term in office.

His Democratic opponent, Justin Nelson, campaigned for less than two months and raised $287,803. Thanks to a $500,000 loan from Nelson to his campaign, the Austin lawyer ended the year with almost $645,000 in campaign cash. Nelson is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

“Texans are excited that there is a viable, Democratic opponent to indicted Ken Paxton,” Nelson campaign manager Nate Walker said. “We are running a financially competitive campaign.”

Paxton is still fighting criminal charges, levied in 2015 by a Collin County grand jury, accusing him of securities fraud and failing to register with state securities regulators in private business deals in 2011 and 2012.

Matt Welch, Paxton’s campaign spokesman, said the strong financial numbers show deep support for the candidate.

“Attorney General Paxton is well-prepared to defend his strong record of effective, conservative leadership with a robust campaign war chest. He has defied liberal political prognosticators by running unopposed for the GOP primary and retains a strong base of financial and grass-roots support,” Welch said.

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