January 23, 2020

Eyes of Nation on Special Texas House Runoff
that's Destroying Money Records in the Stretch

By Mike Hailey
Capitol Inside Editor

Texas House Special
Elections Runoff Cash

Donations & Loans
Cash on Hand

Eliz Markowitz (D)
House District 28
8-Day Report: $109,131
Total Donations: $727,560
Campaign Loans: $0
Jan 18 Cash: $82,130
Gary Gates (R)
House District 28
8-Day Report: $50,519
Total Donations: $76,190
Campaign Loans: $1,526,100
Jan 18 Cash: $15,822
Lorraine Birabil (D)
House District 100
8-Day Report: $11,347
Total Donations: $147,985
Campaign Loans: $0
Dec 31 Cash: $18,598
James Armstrong (D)
House District 100
Jan 15 Report: $11,020
Total Donations: $35,335
Campaign Loans: $6,000
Dec 31 Cash: $13,250
Anna Eastman (D)
House District 148
8-Day Report: $16,682
Total Donations: $199,463
Campaign Loans: $0
Dec 31 Cash: $10,032
Luis La Rotta (R)
House District 100
Jan 15 Report: $20,020
Total Donations: $43,632
Campaign Loans: $0
Dec 31 Cash: $12,663

Source: Texas
Ethics Commission



The most critical Texas House race in history from a national perspective is leaving an array of records shattered in its wake in a Houston-area district where a Democratic candidate and a Republican rival have had more than $2.3 million to spend as they near the finish line five days from now.

The campaign cash competition in the House District 28 runoff has essentially pit Democrats from across the country against a singular Republican overtime foe who's pumped more than $1.5 million of his own money into the contest that's being widely viewed as a bellwether referendum on President Donald Trump in his 2020 re-election bid.

GOP hopeful Gary Gates of Rosenberg has loaned his campaign more than $1.5 million after pouring $350,000 more in personal funds into his bid for the HD 28 in a battle that will end on Tuesday when voters cast ballots in the special runoff election in the Fort Bend County district.

Democrat Eliz Markowitz of Katy has had half as much as Gates after raising almost $728,000 from an unprecedented number of individual contributors in Texas and beyond as the first-round leader in a race that could be a sign of impending doom for the GOP here if HD 28 flips from red to blue in the overtime vote next week.

Markowtiz reported more than $109,000 during the first 18 days in January from 970 individual donors in the special fight in the suburban district that will leave the Democrats just eight seats short of their first state House majority in almost two decades if she prevails at the ballot box in OT.

A Gates victory in the runoff wouldn't be regarded as a significant setback for the Democrats in a special contest in a district where they don't have Trump as an inadvertent ally on the ballot above like they will in the November general election. Democrats appear to have better odds on paper in more than 10 other Texas House battles that the GOP controls now in a state where the turnout this fall could be higher than it's ever been here.

But a Markowtiz win on Tuesday in the district that Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and Trump both carried in the last two election cycles will be viewed from coast to coast as a harbinger for a potential Republican disaster in November in a Lone Star State that Democrats have a decent shot to carry in a presidential contest for the first time since Jimmy Carter won here in 1976.

Markowtiz had a larger war chest on paper than Gates a week before the special overtime vote with $82,000 in cash on hand compared to less than $16,000 that the Republican round-one runner-up reported to the Texas Ethics Commission this week. But Gates has the ability to change that at any time with another infusion of personal funds.

Gates had considerable outside help in the closing weeks of the special runoff election when Governor Greg Abbott spent $26,000 this month on advertising and travel expenses for the GOP contender in the district that Republican John Zerwas had represented until stepping down last fall. The Associated Republicans of Texas rallied behind Gates as well in January with nearly $14,000 that the group earmarked for direct mail on his behalf.

The Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee contributed $50,000 to Markowitz in the past three weeks while the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee at the national level donated almost $10,000 for various expenses. But after reporting contributions from more than 700 individual donors in 2019, Markowtiz pushed the total into the 16,000 range since the start of January.


Copyright 2003-2020 Capitol Inside