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How Much Candidates Raised in the Top Legislative Races

The freeze on fundraising during the legislative session only allowed nine days of fundraising for lawmakers, but some of them made a big push for funds as the 2016 cycle begins. So did their challengers.

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State lawmakers only had nine days in June to raise money this year, but some were able to amass tens of thousands of dollars for re-election races next year.

The short fundraising period was due to the freeze on officeholders’ fundraising during the regular legislative session. But some lawmakers who are facing challengers in 2016 made a big fundraising push in that time.

So did candidates looking to challenge them, who because they do not hold office were not required to abide by the freeze.

Here are some of the top races we’re looking at:

1) Two GOP representatives are facing off to replace state Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, with David Simpson of Longview outraising his colleague Bryan Hughes of Mineola in the nine-day period. Simpson raised roughly $143,000 and spent about $38,000, putting his cash on hand at almost $291,000. Hughes, meanwhile, raised almost $41,000 and spent just over $29,000. Hughes’ cash on hand stands at about $122,500.

2) Another outgoing senator leaving an open seat is Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, where the field hasn’t fully developed. But Dawn Buckingham, an ophthalmologist who will be among the candidates in the GOP primary, loaned herself $500,000 to kickstart a war chest of almost $546,000. She raised about $48,000 and spent about $9,500.

The committee backing state Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene, who’s expressed some interest in the race, raised $430 but has nearly $485,000 in cash on hand.

3) On the Democratic side, state Sen. José Menéndez of San Antonio could see a rematch with state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. Menéndez beat Martinez Fischer in a special election earlier this year to replace former state Sen. Leticia van de Putte.

Both Democrats were active in fundraising during the nine-day period, with Menéndez’s mid-year cash on hand at $83,350 and Martinez Fischer’s at about $194,000.

On the House side, two top allies of House Speaker Joe Straus are facing primary challenges, although only state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, has announced he is running for re-election.

4) State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, didn’t raise any money during the 9-day period but has almost $675,000 in cash on hand. If he runs as expected, Cook would face Thomas McNutt, whose family owns the Collin Street Bakery. McNutt raised about $104,000 and has more than $41,000 in the bank.

5) Geren has announced he’ll seek re-election and will face Bo French, who was a business partner of Chris Kyle, the late Navy SEAL sniper whose story inspired the movie American Sniper.

Geren raised roughly $205,000 and has a war chest of about $801,000. French raised almost $104,000 and spent about $19,000. He also loaned himself $10,000.

6) Another House incumbent facing a challenge is state Rep. Molly White, R-Belton, who faces former state Rep. Hugh Shine. Shine has raised about $125,000 and loaned himself $30,000. White, meanwhile, raised about $7,700 and has about $7,600 in the bank, spending roughly $30,000 this year.

7) State Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, will be challenged by Brent Graves, a land broker and auctioneer from Stephenville. Graves and Sheffield each raised about $9,500 this year, but Sheffield’s $40,000 war chest gives him an advantage over Graves, who has about $1,600 in cash on hand.

8) And state Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, who raised $7,025 and has about $22,800 in cash on hand, faces a challenge from Bryan Slaton. Slaton raised about $7,400 and has roughly $6,350 in cash on hand.

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