Over the weekend, U.S. House incumbents offered a window into how prepared – or not – they are heading into the 2016 election cycle.
Campaign reports were filed covering the final reporting period of 2014, reflecting the aftermath of the midterm elections. While the reports don't tell the full story of a campaign, they do offer insight into a lawmaker's organizational and financial health.
With more than a year to go before the Texas primaries, and 21 months until the 2016 general election, plenty of time remains to hit up donors. But even this early, money matters. An incumbent with fortified coffers could even deter challengers from running.
A handful of Texas incumbents already are emerging as targets for tough re-election fights.
One is a Republican representing a top Democratic pick-up opportunity. Two other GOP members might be targeted in primaries, and one Democrat will probably have a tough primary fight. Specifically:
A Brewing Rematch
The state features only one competitive House seat – the southwest Texas 23rd District, and a rematch could be brewing between freshman Republican Rep. Will Hurd of San Antonio, and the Democratic incumbent he ousted in November, Pete Gallego of Alpine.
A week after the election, national Democrats floated Gallego as a top recruit to take on Hurd in a rematch. Both campaigns emerged from the midterms financially exhausted, as is typical for competitive general elections.
Hurd reported $78,000 in the bank, while Gallego had $29,000. Hurd further reported $70,000 worth of campaign loans from himself. Generally, candidate loans are not viewed as major financial liabilities in campaigns.
This seat flips so often that any major party candidate will spend a substantial amount of time over the next 21 months dialing for dollars — this will all but certainly be a multi-million dollar race.
GOP Incumbents In Strong Shape for Primary Challenges
After former U.S. Rep. Ralph M. Hall lost re-election in his 2014 primary, many political antennae have been sensitive to signs that other longtime Texas Republicans could fall to friendly fire.
Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson recently fueled speculation when he told The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that he might take on U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Lubbock, in a primary.
But the six-term incumbent is not in the weakened financial state Hall was in early 2013. Neugebauer reported $676,000 in cash on hand at the end of 2014. In comparison, at the same time last cycle, Hall had $49,000 in the bank.
Similarly, The El Paso Times floated the notion that state Rep. Scott Turner, R-Frisco, could challenge 12-term U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Richardson.
Johnson, too, is in a relatively strong financial position, with more than $500,000 in cash on hand.
The Perennially Vulnerable Democrat
The other delegation member who could have primary trouble is a Democrat, sophomore U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey.
Veasey, a Fort Worth native, is in a safely Democratic district, and he reported just more than $200,000 in the bank. He'll likely need every dime of it — in his two previous races, he faced self-funded primary rivals.