Other campaign finance storylines swirl underneath the headline-grabbing exploits of the major statewide candidates. Here are a few more hits from this week's campaign reports:
• A couple of extraordinarily high-dollar races are developing in north Dallas County. SD-16 incumbent John Carona, R-Dallas, reports spending close to $1.6 million in the closing months of 2013. More than half of that, or $843,846, went to Allyn Media for advertising. His opponent in the March primary election, Don Huffines, spent roughly $640,000. Most of that spending, about $540,000, went to three companies — Scott Howell & Company, C3 Strategies and Candidate Command — for advertising and mail. And the race could get more expensive. In December, the candidates lent themselves a combined $700,000, showing an ability and willingness to self-finance their campaigns to the utmost. Huffines made three loans totaling $500,000, and Carona made a $200,000 loan.
And in the campaign to fill the House seat being vacated by Dan Branch, three Republican challengers are poised to make HD-108 one of the chamber's most expensive seats. Chart Westcott accounts for much of this. He raised $330,543 and has spent $504,578 already. And he has $493,665 still in his campaign account, meaning he still has plenty of ammunition. Morgan Meyer, meanwhile, has raised $292,218 and has $219,456 in his campaign account after spending $97,606. The third candidate in the race, Court Alley, has raised $99,863 and has spent $33,925, leaving a campaign balance of $71,681 heading into the New Year.
• Another expensive race is shaping up in Donna Campbell's SD-25, which stretches from northern Bexar County all the way into southern Travis County. Campbell and her two challengers for the Republican nomination, former Bexar County Commissioner Mike Novak and former San Antonio City Councilwoman Elisa Chan, have each spent between $160,000 and $170,000. The incumbent reports $289,982 still in her campaign account. Chan, meanwhile, has $202,630 left to spend before March, helped by a $200,000 loan she made to her campaign in October. Novak, though, spent nearly all of what he brought in and reports $12,583 in cash on hand.
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• Former Midland Mayor Mike Canon reports spending nearly $175,000 in his bid to unseat SD-31 incumbent Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. Canon raised $153,164 with a donor list led by a $50,000 contribution from Midland oil and gas investor Kyle Stallings. Midland donors dominated the top echelons of Canon's big-dollar contributors. Seliger, meanwhile, raised $266,601. The top of his donor list was dominated by the kind of PAC money that usually flows to friendly incumbent. The biggest single donation to the Senate Higher Ed chairman was $22,125 from the University of Houston's political arm.
• Skip Ogle, who is challenging Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler in the HD-6 primary, reports $102,100 in contributions, a more than respectable sum for someone challenging an incumbent. The biggest donor was Curtis Mewbourne, owner of Mewbourne Oil, who gave Ogle $20,000. The challenger's biggest contributors were mostly local donors. The incumbent, meanwhile, reported raising $157,735, the biggest chunk of which came in the form of an $89,000 contribution from conservative advocacy group Empower Texans. Schaefer also reported spending $178,792 to close out 2013.
• HD-92 incumbent Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, reported raising $188,576, most of which reflects what he raised during his July 29 Defend Texas Liberty Moneybomb. He goes into 2014 with nearly $220,000 left in his campaign account. He faces HEB ISD trustee Andy Cargile in the March GOP primary election.
• And in the North Texas seat being vacated by House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, a lively four-candidate scrum is competing for the GOP nomination. Waxahachie attorney John Wray was the biggest spender at the close of 2013. Buoyed by a series of loans he made to his campaign totaling $50,059, Wray spent $66,519. Midlothian computer executive Duke Burge also self-financed his campaign to a large degree in the early months. He made loans to his campaign totaling $36,590 and spent $30,591. Tea Party favorite TJ Fabby raised $24,625 and spent $28,146, leaving $5,644 in his campaign account. Jake Ellzey raised $25,330 and spent $10,708, leaving $17,684 in his account.
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