Abbott ahead of Davis in governor race campaign funding

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - New campaign finance numbers show Texas gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is well ahead of Democratic challenger Wendy Davis when it comes to money in the bank.

Abbott had $27,021,747 million left in the bank after the last half of 2013 compared to Davis' $9,566,690.

"This is a mountain of money and, certainly for him, he's got to feel pretty good about where he is," University of Houston political science professor Brandon Rottinghaus told Local 2 after reviewing donation numbers. "I think General Abbott has been in office for so long he has really developed networks."

Abbott, a Republican, is the Texas Attorney General. Davis is a state senator who gained fame when she spoke on the senate floor for hours last summer hoping to block more restrictive abortion laws.

The non-partisan campaign watchdog, Lobby Watch, crunched campaign donation numbers from the last half of 2013.
Most of Abbot's money came from Texans.

A quarter of Davis' money came from outside our state.

Davis claimed two $1 million donations. One came from Mostyn Law Firm of Houston and the other from a retired Austin doctor, Carolyn Oliver.

Abbott received a combined $750,000 from Harold Simmons, a Dallas man associated with a nuclear waste dump.

Rottinghaus says while large donations such as those may not get favors from the winner of the gubernatorial race, they do help a donor get access to a candidate.

"I don't think money buys favors or influence," Rottinghaus said. It helps in other ways. "You are going to get your phone calls returned and you are going to get to have a meeting when you want it."

Numbers also show 27 percent of money Davis raised came from donations of $100 or less.  Three percent of Abbots fund raising came in small donations.

"The fact that Attorney General Abbot has raised so few dollars from smaller donors isn't that uncommon. He's an established politician," Rottinghaus said. "I think Davis has tremendous grass roots appeal and I think that was critical for her campaign to show."

Davis still faces an uphill battle, he said.

"It's going to be a real tough sell for her and I think the thing that could help her sell herself, and the Democratic party, is money."

Rottinghaus said Davis will prove to be a viable candidate if she can find issues that connect with the voters.

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