Greg Abbott has a thousand times more campaign cash than Lupe Valdez


Gov. Greg Abbott heads into his 2018 re-election campaign with more than 1,000 times as much money in the bank as Lupe Valdez, who stepped down as Dallas County sheriff in December to seek the Democratic nomination and oppose the governor’s bid for a second term.

Valdez raised $46,498 in the waning days of 2017 for her late-starting gubernatorial campaign, and had $40,346 in cash on hand at year’s end, compared to Abbott’s record-setting $43.3 million.

Despite Valdez’s small haul, her campaign finance report for the second half of 2017, filed with the Texas Ethics Commission ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, includes an eclectic group of donors, some of whom are in a position to provide a lot more money down the road if her campaign takes hold.

Valdez’s largest contributions — each $5,000 — came from Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia, a former state representative, frequent political candidate and the husband of Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, and James Reis of Dallas, executive vice president of GAINSCO Auto Insurance. She received $2,500 each from the Law Office of Cameron Gray and Associates in Grand Prairie, and Serena Connelly of Farmers Branch, the daughter of the late Republican mega-donor Harold Simmons, who serves as executive vice president and director of philanthropy of the foundation that bears his name, and $2,000 from Joe Pacetti, a prominent Dallas jeweler and philanthropist.

Valdez also received $1,000 from Mary McDermott Cook, one of Dallas’ premier civic leaders and the daughter of Eugene McDermott, the co-founder of Texas Instruments. She heads the Eugene McDermott Foundation. Other thousand dollar contributors included Sam Coats, the chairman of the board of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport; Regina Montoya, former senior vice president and general counsel of Children’s Medical Center and director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the Clinton administration; Dallas attorney Steve Rudner, chair of the Equality Texas board of directors; Cynthia Villarreal, executive assistant chief of police in Dallas; Angela Scheuerle, a professor at UT Southwestern; and the campaign account of Sen. José R. Rodríguez, D-El Paso.

Valdez received $500 each from Dr. Lefayne Hodde of Austin; Martha Orozco, an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid in Houston, state Rep. Evelina Ortega, D-El Paso, and Norma Westurn, the CEO of Centro de Mi Salud, which provides bilingual behavioral health-care services in the DFW Metroplex.

Valdez received $300 each from state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, and Terri Maxwell of Irving, the CEO of Share on Purpose Inc., who is described on her web site as “an impactful, passionate leader known for simplifying formulas for success and igniting potential.”

Valdez also received a $254 contribution from D. Karen Wilkerson of Tyler, who, with her partner, Jolie Smith, were the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage certificate in Smith County when the Supreme Court made such marriages legal in all 50 states in June 2015. Wilkerson’s contribution amounts to a dollar for each of Texas’ 254 counties.

Altogether, there are nine Democratic candidates for governor competing in the March 6 primary.

According to his filing, Houston businessman Andrew White of Houston, who entered the race the day after Valdez, raised $219,277 in three weeks of campaigning, loaned his campaign $40,000, and had $104,475 in cash on hand at the end of the year.

“While I’m happy to raise a substantial sum in such a short amount of time, I’m even more thrilled and humbled by the overwhelming support I’ve earned from Texas teachers, medical professionals, business leaders, homemakers, veterans and community leaders,” White said in a statement. “These supporters believe, like I do, that Texas can do better. They’re tired of the extremist agenda. I am grateful for the incredible amount of early support. We’re just getting started.”

The son of former Gov. Mark White, White is making his first run for political office.

White’s top donors are David Modesett, president of Vega Energy Partners, and his wife, Diane, who gave $15,000, and Ryan McCord, president of McCord Development in Houston, who contributed $10,000 to White, as did Houston civic leader and philanthropist Judy Tate.

According to the filing by a third Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Tom Wakely of San Antonio, his campaign received $3,281 in contributions, as well as a series of small loans from his wife totalling $8,813. The campaign spent $16,877, mostly for travel and lodging, plus the filing fee with the state party, and had $16.26 in cash on hand as of the end of the year.

A fourth candidate, Flower Mound financial analyst Adrian Ocegueda, raised $145, loaned the campaign $5,000, and had $1,069 in cash on hand.

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