Record-breaking political ad money coming in race for Houston mayor

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - The race to be the city's next mayor is expected to be the most expensive in Houston history, with record spending on advertising, according to Rice University political scientist Mark Jones.

"The candidates have been raising quite a bit of money," he said. "The two most successful fundraisers thus far are Steve Costello and Adrian Garcia."

Channel 2 Investigates reviewed recent campaign disclosures. When it comes to cash on hand to fund their races, here are how the top seven candidates rank as of June 30, 2015:

  1. Adrian Garcia $1,321,625
  2. Stephen Costello $1,314,202
  3. Sylvester Turner $1,160,813
  4. Marty McVey $1,071,585
  5. Benjamin Hall $812,175
  6. Bill King $544,498
  7. Chris Bell $190,034

Hall and McVey have funded their campaigns mostly themselves. Jones says McVey has no realistic chance of victory.

The people giving to some of the other candidates often give to get access, Jones says.

"In these types of elections, they are very different than state or national elections in that people give less for ideological and personal reasons and for more to have access and a relationship with the future mayor," Jones said. "A great example of giving for access is the law firm of Andrews Kurth, which has a large number of contracts with the city of Houston. They are making no pretenses. They are giving for access."

Andrews Kurth gave $2,500 to five candidates, according to a firm spokeswoman

Spending on media buys is expected to be significant.

Steve Costello's camp forked over $75,000 on cable ads recently.

Bill King's camp bought cable, too, but won't say how much it spent.

Sylvester Turner recently paid $450,000 for airtime on the Houston's major news stations, including Channel 2. Ads won't start until mid-September.

Campaign spokesman Sue Davis said they purchased 557 spots.

Jones expects turnout for the Nov. 3 election to only be about 20-25 percent of eligible voters.

"We're really not looking at a turnout above 250,000," Jones said.

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