Costly stump is on: Will Houston mayoral field get more crowded?

Former council member Sue Lovell poised to enter the race

By Mario Diaz - Reporter

HOUSTON - It's election season and the stump is on in Houston.

Rice political science professor Mark Jones summed up the election in seconds, saying, "This is going to be a blockbuster election."

Candidates are shaking hands in an effort to do and spend "whatever it takes," candidate Bill King said.

The objective? To become mayor of the nation's fourth-largest city this fall.

The showdown is currently between incumbent Sylvester Turner, established challenger King, upstart candidate council member Dwight Boykins and the wild card, attorney Tony Buzbee.

Here's a look at campaign fundraising:

Jones said this political scrap is competitive.

"Without question, the mayor is in a fight for his political life," he said.

He also expects it to be the richest mayoral race in city history, with spending north of $30 million.

"Well, most of the money will be spent between now and November just because we have four candidates and they are all competing heavily for only two golden tickets to the December runoff," Jones said.

Money already is being spent on the streets and on air.

Buzbee unveiled his first TV ad last December, admitting to Channel 2 Investigates, "I've spent a lot of money so far. There is no doubt about it."

King spent a good chunk of change the last time around, in a tight race against Turner.

"Sylvester spent, I think over $6 million, and we spent about $3 million and yet, we came out within fractions of a point close to each other," he said.

Boykins joined the race only weeks ago. He admits raising dollars against an incumbent is a challenge.

His goal is to raise close to a million dollars, he said.

"We have a lot of people contributing small dollar amounts and we are going to continue to ask for that and make major commitments," Boykins said.

Boykins filed late, so his finance report isn't due until July.

However, numbers on the other candidates from their last report in January shows King’s war chest at just more than $108,000, Buzbee at $1.4 million and Turner with $2.8 million.

New financials are expected in the coming weeks as the campaigns are set to update their reports.

Expect campaign coffers to see a significant rise. 

Aside from campaign contributions on the up and up, the number of candidates in the race is rising, as well.

Former city of Houston council member Sue Lovell is poised to enter the race.

Lovell confirmed to Channel 2 Investigates on Wednesday that she is more than likely entering.

Channel 2 Investigates reached out to Turner for an interview, but a campaign spokesperson declined on his behalf via text, writing the mayor says, "thanks but no thanks."

Election day is less than five months away.

Editor's note: The subheadline on this story has been corrected to reflect that Lovell is not the first woman entering the mayoral race. Demetria Smith was the first.

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