in Houston, Texas
Big money didn't equal big election wins in Texas or across the US
Wednesday, Nov 10, 2010, 04:34PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
100-dollar bills

Solomon Ortiz was no Meg Whitman, but they both helped put the lie to the contention of the conventional wisdom that big money would buy elections in 2010.


Let's not get this wrong. There was plenty of money spent on elections this past election cycle, about $1.6 billion by Republicans and about $1.6 billion by Democrats, according to OpenSecrets.org, an investigative and data gathering arm of the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics. And as you can see from this OpenSecrets graphic of spending on House races in Texas, there were plenty of entrenched Republicans and Democrats who charged back into office after their campaigns rained dollars while their opponents spent virtually nothing.


But in both the staggering number of House races Republican took from incumbents nationally and in those they didn't, it was tough to see, as a story on Reason.com points out, any strict correlation between money and victory.


Certainly not in the case of Rep. Ortiz, a Democrat from Corpus Christi, who pitted 28 years of Congressional experience backed by almost $900,000 and came up 799 votes short to Republican Randolph Farenthold, who raised less than $400,000. Ortiz has asked the Texas Secretary of State to grant a manual vote recount. The office has the next two days to decide.


Another longtime Democratic incumbent, Chet Edwards, of Waco, raised $3.4 million, only to lose to a Republican opponent who raised $800,000 less than he did, William Flores. While Democratic Rep. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, did not have the tenure of Ortiz and Edwards, raising $260,000 more than Republican Francisco Canseco didn't help either.


It should also be pointed out that incumbent Dallas Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson beat back a challenge by Republican Stephen Broden, who outspent her, but by a little more than $30,000 in a campaign in which about $1.3 million was spent.


And while Republicans were successful spending less than their opponents in House races, some, like Whitman, who spent $140 million of her own money to take a double-digit thumping from Jerry Brown, were spectacularly unsuccessful outspending their foes. Linda McMahon, professional wrestling magnate and Republican candidate for the Senate, spent $46 million in a losing effort.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

Photo of 100-dollar bills by flickr user jtyerse, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
afisher
Thursday, 11/11/2010 - 12:26PM

What is known about Francisco Conseco is that he is not a fiscally responsible individual. As of Oct 13,2010, his campaign remains in debt, to the tune of $1.1M dollars. In Sept, he was $1.4M in campaign debt and he paid himself back over $300K via campaign donations. Yes, as of Oct, he stills owes himself $300K. While Open Secrets is a great source, the FEC is also a very illuminating web site that allows for a more indepth analysis. Yes, it may be a little more cumbersome, but if someone is actually going to do a story, why not do the whole story and report all the facts.

Sending someone to DC who is this fiscally irresponsible was bad for TX. It will be interesting to follow his donations from the Young Guns (GOP) and see who funds his paydown of debt. This will be an indicator, in case anyone needs one, that elections can be bought and paid for and this is not good for anyone but the person who is elected.

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