WASHINGTON — Making a comeback bid for Congress, ex-U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego raised $224,000 in his first three months as a 2016 House candidate, according to his campaign. The sum is about half of what his Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, raised in the same time period.

The two men are expected to square off in Texas' only competitive U.S. House seat, the 23rd Congressional District, in the fall of 2016. Hurd ousted Gallego by two percentage points in 2014. 

Gallego, an Alpine Democrat, is set to report $174,000 in cash on hand, in comparison with Hurd's $685,000 cash-on-hand sum. Hurd, a San Antonio Republican, raised another $500,000 in the first quarter, before Gallego entered the race. Gallego announced his challenge in April.

Gallego's haul was on par with his own 2014 fundraising. But during that election, Hurd was a weaker fundraiser as a largely unknown challenger. Since taking office in January, Hurd has turned up the fundraising with the benefits of being an incumbent. 

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

There are distinct benefits for incumbents when it comes to fundraising.

Trade associations and company political action committees in Washington, D.C., often have a policy of only donating to incumbents. Additionally, the House campaign committees are known to keep close tabs on endangered incumbents' schedules and organize "call time" at party headquarters, where incumbents spend part of their day making phone calls to donors. 

Despite all of that, Hurd still heads into the second half of this year with a $500,000 cash-on-hand advantage over Gallego.

This money will go toward television advertising in 2016.  Super PACS and the national parties are expected to spend in this race, but candidate fundraising is crucial to House races: By law, candidates secure lower television ad rates than outside groups. 

Never miss a moment in Texas politics with our daily newsletter.