CenTex Round-Up: Money Game for 2016 Primaries

Note: 450th District Court finance reports are not yet available so look for that update Thur/Fri, as well as an update on neighboring Williamson County, where an open seat on a scandal-prone Commissioner’s Court could be a race to watch.

Summer time… the sun shines across a bright blue Texas sky, children relish their time off from school, and primary season is in full swing. Entering stage right, numerous would-be nominees for anything from District Attorney and Sheriff to County Commissioner and Court at law Judge. Speeches and scheming are under way and the first test has just drawn to a close — perhaps the candidates may reward themselves with a night off.

On Wednesday candidates, or their staff/consultants/treasurer etc., filed a campaign finance report covering monies raised and expenditures for the first half of 2015. Given we won’t see another one of these until next year, success in this test is an apt way to make a good first impression. Now, the question is if candidates are unopposed have they raised enough to ward off a challenger, and if they are not so fortunate to have a clear path to election, have they out-raised their fellow candidates?

The highest echelon of county government is decided for now, after a contentious (let’s stick with polite descriptors shall we) primary for County Judge in 2014. That being said we may yet see a Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Gerald Daugherty, who represents Pct. 3, as David Holmes has thrown himself into the race. Daugherty is the lone Republican on the four-person Commissioner’s Court, which is overseen by Judge Sarah Eckhardt. Meanwhile, retiring Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis will likely be replaced by James Nortey, lest something major change between now and next March.

Moving along: so far would-be DA Gary Cobb hasn’t garnered serious opposition to replace outgoing DA Rosemary Lehmberg, and the money he raised may spare him such a challenge. It also probably helps that and his supporter list is a who’s who of local activists, donors, and shot-callers that any candidate would be engaging in braggadocio to take lightly. A 24-year veteran of the District Attorney’s Office, Cobb has previously run for DA.

Down the ballot this cycle we will see a hot race for Sheriff in Travis County, with many hopefuls already promising to do what their retiring predecessor would not — end voluntary cooperation with ICE over the deportation of non-violent offenders, etc., who are say stopped for speeding and soon booted out of the country. Though ICE/SCOM, mental health treatment, and other more humanitarian efforts to reduce recidivism should prove common themes, words are words until deeds prove them true.

With Constable Pct. 4 Maria Canchola having recently announced her retirement, a south-eastern seat is wide open. So far Manuel Jimenez and George Morales have thrown their hats into the ring. Similarly, we may see a race for Constable Pct. 3 if Sally Hernandez does in fact join the race for Sheriff (there is an on-going effort to draft her into the race).

Last, but not least, the judges. If you’re not familiar with the lovely nuances of Texas politics it is my privilege to inform you that we elect our judges. Whether anyone actually knows who they are voting for when it comes to judgeships (other than the party declaration next to their name), well, as of yet we haven’t actually had the heart to do any polling. Attorneys Brad Urrutia and Chantal Eldridge are running for the newly-created 450th District Court seat. While I do not follow judge races as closely as others, I was informed that Assistant County Attorney Kim Williams is running (and her finance report would necessitate a quite ably) for County Court at Law #9. Perhaps I’ll do a wrap-up of the judiciary later this week. Time will tell.

Without further ado, the results. Visit the Travis County Clerk’s website for more:

District Attorney
Gary Cobb — $84,906 raised, no loans, and $18,233.33 spent || $66,682.67 on hand

Commissioner’s Court
James Nortey, Pct. 1 — $29,899.65 raised, $5,050 in loans, and $7,060.18 spent
$27,738.54 on hand || Nortey is running replace retiring Commissioner Ron Davis

Gerald Daugherty — $1,500 raised, no loans, and $5,079.49 spent || $12,490.16 on hand
David Holmes — $9,057.00 raised, no loans, and $1,052.31 spent || $7,907.53 on hand
If Holmes (D) wins in March, he would challenge Daugherty (R; Incb) in November 2016

Don Rios — $61,290.00 raised**, no loans, and $4,493.06 spent || $56,797.94 on hand
John Sisson — $4,005 raised, $35,000 in loans, and $3,867.67 spent || $34,813.77 on hand
Todd Radford — $10,200 raised**, no loans, and no expenditures || $10,200 on hand
Jim Sylvester — $1,540 raised, no loans, and no expenditures || $1540 on hand
Rios received $45,000.00 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Law Enforcement Association PAC, of which he is immediate past chair. It is the largest PAC contribution of the finance reports I reviewed. Radford meanwhile received $10,000.00 from the Travis County Sheriff’s Officers Association PAC.

Sally Hernandez — $34,172 raised, no loans, and $9,287.90 spent || $31,712.68 on hand
As the incumbent Pct. 3 Constable Hernandez has in no way declared for Sheriff, however, there is an effort to draft her into that race. Organizers are associated with the Making Government Work PAC.

George Morales — $20,697 raised, no loans, and $1721 spent || $18,976 on hand
Manuel Jimenez — $450 raised, $8,200 in loans, and $4,158.88 spent || $5,763.63 on hand
Morales and Jimenez are running to replace retiring Constable Maria Canchola


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