With a rally in Austin, Donald Trump keeps his campaign weird


Donald Trump’s rally Tuesday might do a little bit to keep Austin weird, but it is mostly about Trump remaining true to his idiosyncratic approach to running for president.

“It’s a bit unconventional to be in Austin, Texas, for a rally with 80-some-odd days to go before the election, but he’s an unconventional candidate, and it’s gotten him this far,” said Dierdre Delisi, an Austin political consultant and former adviser and chief of staff to then-Gov. Rick Perry.

LATEST UPDATES: Keep up with Donald Trump’s visit to Austin as it happens

But Texas has proved fertile fundraising territory — the single best state for direct contributions to his presidential campaign through the end of July — and is also home to some of the biggest donors to his campaign’s joint fundraising arrangement with the Republican National Committee and several state Republican parties.

And as long as Trump was going to be in Texas for two fundraisers Tuesday — a luncheon at the City Club in Fort Worth and a 6 p.m. reception at the Headliners Club in downtown Austin — it is his proclivity to have a large rally.

Trump will speak at the Travis County Exposition Center on Tuesday night in a city that Perry has called the blueberry floating in a big bowl of tomato soup, but like most of Trump’s other rallies, it is national in its reach, thanks to the wall-to-wall coverage that his campaign has thrived on from the start.

TRAFFIC ALERT: How Trump’s visit could affect your commute

“Until cable TV stops covering those rallies, he’s going to keep having them everywhere,” said Jim Henson, who directs the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. But, Henson said, “nobody in Austin should be under the impression that the rally is for them.”

“They are working under the theory that as long as they’re on TV, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s in Austin, because voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Colorado and all the swing states will see it,” said Delisi. For viewers across the country, the fact that Trump happens to be in Austin might add an extra element of interest. And for Texas Republicans, long starved for a general election appearance by their party’s general election standard-bearer, the rally is something to celebrate.

Bob Dole was the last major party candidate to campaign in Texas this close to a general election (with the exception of end-of-campaign homecomings by George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004), and his appearance at Southern Methodist University in October 1996 came at a time when his candidacy was thought doomed.

READ: Trump has 6-point lead over Clinton in Texas built on older voters

Trump seems a sure bet to win Texas, despite polls showing him with a smaller lead than the margins of victory that Texas Republicans have grown accustomed to in the last two presidential elections and the statewide elections in between.

And, Delisi notes, Trump is spending the campaign’s most precious commodity here.

“You can’t create more time,” she said. “A day in Texas is one day less stepping foot in a swing state.”

But, Delisi said, “this will likely be a very lucrative trip for him.”

RELATED: Who will and who won’t be at Trump’s Austin rally

Texas bounty

According to Federal Election Commission records, Texans have contributed $55.6 million directly to both major party presidential candidates’ official committees this cycle — $38.5 million to Republicans and just shy of $17 million to Democrats — through the end of July.

The single biggest beneficiary of Texas giving was U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who collected $19.8 million in his failed bid for the Republican nomination. Hillary Clinton raised $13.3 million, and Bernie Sanders raised $3.4 million.

NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX: Click here to get our Morning Headlines email

Trump, who defeated 16 Republican rivals in a campaign that largely depended on free media coverage and was very late to the fundraising game, has raised a little more than $5 million in Texas, more than from any other state and outdistancing his home state of New York and his home-away-from-home state of Florida.

Donations to the candidate’s campaign were limited to a total of $2,700 per person before the party’s political convention and $2,700 after the convention.

Joint contributions

The joint Trump-Republican Party fundraising effort, known as the Trump Victory fund, which will be the recipient of money raised Tuesday in Texas, reaped the bounty of Trump’s fundraising tour in June to Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. Trump held rallies then in Dallas and The Woodlands, both of which were well-attended.

That money, and the money raised Tuesday, is divvied up among the national party, the Trump campaign and an array of state parties — not including Texas.

Texas ranked second for those donations, with Texans giving Trump $5.3 million, just behind California’s $5.4 million and well ahead of New York with $3.6 million, Florida with $3.2 million and Georgia with $1.1 million.

GET NEWS TO YOUR HOMESCREEN: Download our free Statesman Live app in the Apple iTunes and Google Play stores to get push notifications when news breaks in Austin

The five biggest Texas donors were Carl Allen, owner, CEO and president of Heritage Bag Co., and Anne Allen, from the small Denton County city of Roanoke; D.A. Beal, the chairman of Beal Bank, of Dallas; and biotechnology entrepreneur Darwin Deason and his wife, Katerina, of Dallas. Each of them donated the maximum at the time, $449,400. The maximum has since increased as more states have become part of the joint fundraising effort.

The biggest Austin donors so far are investor John Markham Green of the Owner Resource Group, who contributed $45,000 in June, and lawyer James McCutcheon, who gave $15,000 in June.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

Man pointed gun at neighbor who shot fireworks that scared his dog, police say
Man pointed gun at neighbor who shot fireworks that scared his dog, police say

An Austin man is accused of pointing a loaded gun Tuesday at his neighbor because he had scared his dog by setting off fireworks, court documents filed said. Robert Adolph, 35, faces a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He was in the Travis County Jail on Wednesday with bail set at $10,000, jail records show. Police responded Tuesday...
NEW INFO: Police identify pedestrian killed Friday in North Austin crash
NEW INFO: Police identify pedestrian killed Friday in North Austin crash

Police have identified a pedestrian who died after being hit by an SUV in North Austin on Friday as 58-year-old Troy Dean Fisher. Fisher was trying to cross Rutland Drive near North Lamar Boulevard around 9: 05 p.m. when he was hit by a Toyota 4Runner headed west, according to Austin police. Police said he was not in a crosswalk. Fisher was taken to...
Valdez demands debates with Abbott include questions in Spanish

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez Wednesday announced her acceptance of a second debate with Gov. Greg Abbott but also identified conditions for the first, or any, debate, reducing the likelihood the two candidates will face each other on a debate stage. Among the conditions: some questions in Spanish and the debate can’t compete...
Community news: Austin police host ICARE conference Aug. 1-4

TRAVIS COUNTY EAST AUSTIN Police host community conference The Austin Police Department will host the third annual Integrity, Courage, Accountable, Respect, Ethical Conference on Aug. 1-4 at the Austin Community College Eastview Campus, 3401 Webberville Road. The free ICARE conference will offer educational and interactive sessions in topics including...
Austin writer Evan Narcisse joins Rooster Teeth animated show
Austin writer Evan Narcisse joins Rooster Teeth animated show

Evan Narcisse, the Austin writer whose “Rise of the Black Panther” mini-series was one of the spring’s buzzier Marvel comics, has joined the writing staff of “gen:LOCK,” the upcoming anime-style sci-fi series from Austin content mega-provider Rooster Teeth. In “gen:LOCK,” Earth’s last free...
More Stories