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Inside The Last-Minute Scramble for Texas Campaign Money

In the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, party big guns will storm Texas in search of campaign cash.

Republican candidate for president Donald Trump and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives.

WASHINGTON — While Texas politics may be largely dormant this fall, nationally it’s the busiest stretch of the campaign season, and that means a dizzying array of powerful party players are prioritizing the Lone Star State amid their jammed schedules. 

The reason? Money. 

In the coming weeks, leaders like Republican nominee Donald Trump, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are scheduled to plow through San Antonio, Dallas and other Texas locales in pursuit of money to fund television ads supporting campaigns and candidates elsewhere in the country.  

It’s no secret that rich Texans donate money to out-of-state political allies. But through mid-October, the state will see the continuation of an onslaught that began after Labor Day of non-Texans raising money for themselves or for Texans, according to an analysis of available invitations obtained by The Texas Tribune. 

“The big few are New York, Florida, Texas and California, in terms of folks who come for the money but not for the votes,” said Joshua Stewart, a spokesman for the campaign finance watch group the Sunlight Foundation. 

“The need for money is more and more, and the need for these types of trips continue to grow,” he added. 

Trump and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus are scheduled to swing through Dallas and San Antonio on Tuesday, with a goal of raising $5 to $8 million, according to a source close to the Trump campaign.  

This past Thursday, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn rounded up their donors for events supporting embattled senate colleagues. U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Charles Grassley of Iowa all traveled to Dallas and Houston to raise money for the remaining weeks in their competitive re-election races. 

Visits by Ryan and U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer are aimed at carrying the state’s only competitive campaign, the race for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. 

Ryan is expected to campaign and fundraise for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio in mid-October and raise money for his own political operation, which includes the national House GOP fundraising arm.  

Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, campaigned Thursday for Hurd’s rival, former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, a Democrat. Hoyer raised money for Gallego, along with Vicente Gonzalez, the Democratic nominee in the safely Democratic 15th District. 

Pelosi will raise money for her party's campaign arm on Wednesday at a San Antonio event hosted by U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro

House Republicans will inundate Dallas next week as well. U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, will host a Dallas fundraiser on Monday for his colleagues on the committee he chairs, the House Rules Committee. 

That reception will benefit the re-election campaigns of Republican U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Rob Woodall of Georgia, Michael Burgess of Lewisville, Steve Stivers of Ohio, Doug Collins of Georgia, Bradley Byrne of Alabama and Dan Newhouse of Washington. 

And in Dallas on Wednesday, mega-donors Harlan Crow and Doug Deason are scheduled to hold a fundraiser for several prominent women in the House and Senate: Ayotte, Liz Cheney, who is likely to win her race as an at-large member from Wyoming, U.S. Reps. Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Martha McSally of Arizona and Elise Stefanik of New York.  

It is unclear if those women will attend the event, but they are named beneficiaries on the invitation obtained by the Tribune.  

Multiple members of the Trump family, and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, are among those who have already passed through Texas this fundraising cycle. 

The second-ranking House Republican, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, raised money a week ago for the re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, who’s in an uncompetitive North Texas district. 

Cornyn also hosted two neighboring senators to the north, Oklahoma’s Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, for a late-September dove hunting weekend in Hondo that benefited Cornyn’s fundraising operation that includes money directed toward the Senate GOP campaign arm. 

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, raised money in Dallas on Oct. 3.  

South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley and Republican strategist Karl Rove are scheduled to be in the state for October fundraisers. But by the third week of the month, the events appear to taper off, primarily because the window to book television advertising time before Election Day will be closing.

Patrick Svitek contributed to this report. 

Read related Tribune coverage: 

  • U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan will campaign for U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio in his re-election bid against former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, a Democrat. 
  • Gallego defends himself against GOP charges. 

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Politics 2016 elections Texas congressional delegation