January 21, 2020

Houston Dem Loads War Chest with Council Bid Funds
for Primary Showdown with Veteran State Representative

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas Fundraising
Primary Election 2020

House Races to Watch
Democrat Incumbents
July-December 2019
Cash December 31

Tracy King (D-Inc)
House District 80
Jan 15 Report: $147,776
Total Donations: $164,877
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $295,856
Jerry Davis (D)
House District 142
Jan 15 Report: $139,565
Total Donations: $139,565
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $129,928
Erin Zwiener (D-Inc)
House District 45
Jan 15 Report: $109,467
Total Donations: $128,725
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $75,336
Michelle Beckley (D-Inc)
House District 65
Jan 15 Report: $63,835
Total Donations: $79,170
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $79,170
Sergio Munoz (D-Inc)
House District 36
Jan 15 Report: $66,217
Total Donations: $68,217
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $237,348
Alex Dominguez (D-Inc)
House District 37
Jan 15 Report: $56,750
Total Donations: $56,750
Campaign Loans: $8,000
Cash on Hand: $8,722
Harold Dutton (D-Inc)
House District 142
Jan 15 Report: $28,876
Total Donations: $28,876
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $79,263
Amber Medina (D)
House District 37
Jan 15 Report: $19,040
Total Donations: $19,040
Campaign Loans: $14,666
Cash on Hand: $6,427
Danny Valdez (D)
House District 80
Jan 15 Report: $16,177
Total Donations: $16,177
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $0
Paige Dixon (D)
House District 65
Jan 15 Report: $8,976
Total Donations: $17,375
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $321
Abraham Padron (D)
House District 36
Jan 15 Report: $8,182
Total Donations: $8,182
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $12,824
Liliana Posada (D)
House District 45
Jan 15 Report: $0
Total Donations: $0
Campaign Loans: $0
Cash on Hand: $0
Source: Texas Ethics
Commission

An African-American Democrat appears to pose a serious threat to a veteran state lawmaker in the March primary election after arming a fledgling Texas House campaign with funds that he raised from contributors for two winning city council races in Houston.

House hopeful Jerry Davis entered January with a substantial cash advantage over Democratic State Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston after transferring almost $140,000 last month from his local account to the state campaign committee in a move that got his bid for the Legislature's lower chamber off the ground with a bang. Davis is being forced out of the local post by the Houston term limits ordinance after eight years on the council.

While State Rep. Tracy King of Uvalde raised more money in 2019 than any other Democratic candidate in a contested House primary, Davis ranked second in that regard with the singular contribution that he made to himself for the fight with Dutton and two other primary foes this year.

The second-longest serving Democrat in the Texas Capitol's west wing, Dutton generated less than $29,000 from donors last year despite the formidable obstacle that Davis promises to be for the incumbent in the primary election less than two months from now.

Dutton has served for 35 years in the House where he's chaired the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee during six of the last nine regular sessions under three separate Republican speakers. Dutton had a stint as the Urban Affairs Committee chief for four years under GOP rule as well.

Dutton has played a key role in the fight against racial stereotyping by police and other progressive causes. But Dutton hasn't always marched in lockstep with the Democratic liberal base as one of the minority party's more conservative members in a chamber where he's sided with tea party conservatives at times on issues that have been viewed as relatively libertarian.

Davis hasn't been afraid to take controversial positions like he did several years ago when he backed a controversial tax break for a major grocery store franchise expansion in a separate part of the Bayou City from the area that he represents. Davis appeared to be resisting the controversial Houston equal rights ordinance before eventually pitching his support behind it.

Dutton faces the biggest test of his political career with Davis taking aim at him in the first round of the 2020 vote. But the primary battle in House District 142 could be destined for overtime with Richard Bonton and Natasha Ruiz on the March ballot as well. While Ruiz and Bonton have not reported any contributions to the Texas Ethics Commission since filing for the HD 142 race last year, they could be factors that force a primary runoff if the initial vote between Dutton and Davis is close.

The HD 42 race could be the only truly competitive Democratic primary on the House battlefield with an incumbent on the defensive in 2020 if the meager sums of campaign cash that other challengers reported to the TEC last week are indicators.

King - a member of the House for 23 out of the past 25 years - rounded up almost $148,000 from contributors in the second half of 2019 in a haul that bumped his overall fundraising total to nearly $165,000 for the current election cycle. Primary foe Danny Valdez reported donations of slightly more than $16,000 in the past six months as a former Webb County judge who'd initially planned to run for the House District 80 seat two years ago before missing the filing deadline.

Democratic State Reps. Erin Zwiener of Driftwood and Michelle Beckley of Carrollton raised $129,000 and $79,000 last year as freshmen lawmakers who are facing primary opposition in their first re-election races after flipping House seats from red to blue when Democrats picked up a dozen seats in 2018. The primary challengers in the districts that Beckley and Zwiener represent raised little or no money last year.

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