Real estate developer Don Huffines told a Dallas-Fort Worth conservative radio show two weeks ago he plans to spend $20 million in his quest to beat incumbent Greg Abbott to become the Republican nominee for Governor. How plausible is that claim?
His latest campaign finance disclosure shows he only raised $2 million in the latter half of 2021, which is half of the $4.1 million he raised in the first six months last year and less than half of the $5 million loan he gave his campaign in May.
In 2021, Huffines spent $7.1 million for his gubernatorial campaign, $5.7 million of which was in the last six months. Abbott spent more in just the last six months, to the tune of $9.6 million.
Taken together with his radio comment, Huffines intends to spend nearly 3 times as much in the two months before the March 1 primary than he did all of last year. At the beginning of 2022, he has $3.7 million in his war chest, not including the $5 million loan. Abbott has $65 million in his war chest.
Although Huffines did not loan his campaign more money towards the end of 2021, his twin brother and wife were the second and third largest donors in his latest campaign finance disclosure, contributing $375,000. His top donor was fellow Dallas real estate developer Scott Hall who wrote a $600,000 check. Huffines will need a lot more than that in light of the slower pace of his fundraising to ramp up spending to meet the $20 million goal.
If history is any indication though, Huffines will continue fueling his own campaigns just as he has when he was in the Texas Senate. He loaned his 2018 Texas Senate re-election campaign $500,000, which was ultimately unsuccessful. That represented 15 percent of the funds raised since he was elected to the Texas Senate in 2014 and 25 percent of what he raised in the 2018 election cycle alone.
For his gubernatorial campaign, Huffines’ loan to his campaign is 45 percent of all money Huffines raised thus far, $11.1 million. If the $2.2 million donated from his twin brother, Phillip Huffines, and $175,000 donation from his wife are factored too, only 33.7 percent of Huffines’ 2021 fundraising haul was donors other than the Huffines twins and the candidate’s wife.
Based on a review of the limited information in personal financial statements Huffines submitted while he was a State Senator and public records of the businesses he owns, the former Dallas state Senator is capable of bankrolling his campaign to the tune of millions. His net worth based on RA News’ analysis is likely at least $320 million.
The real estate development business he co-owns with his twin brother, Huffines Communities, reported $5 million in sales last year. He has a stake in his family’s car dealership company Huffines Chevrolet, which reported over $75 million in sales in 2021. He has a media company that reported over $1.3 million in sales last year, and a consulting and landscape architecture firm that brought in a quarter of a million dollars in sales last year.
Huffines has business assets, some of which he shares with his twin, worth nearly $300 million. Here are a couple of examples:
- a multi-family apartment complex in Lewisville that is worth $247 million
- an apartment complex in Rowlett worth $44 million
- a master planned community in St. Paul worth $5.4 million
- a condo/highrise in Westgate Tower in Austin worth $1 million
- land in Hunt County worth $37,000
Huffines also personally owns a $6 million home in Highland Park.
In 2018, he disclosed at least $26,000 in income from interests, dividends, and mineral royalties. He also disclosed at least $125,000 in investments from real estate companies he owns with his twin, at least $25,000 in stock ownership in a Dallas billboard company, and at least $25,000 in a profit-sharing plan with stocks and real estate. His liabilities were at least $50,000. He disclosed at least $25,000 in liabilities to Millcreek Associates, whose parent company is one the Huffines twins co-own, and a more than $25,000 land development loan for his St. Paul master planned community.
Huffines’ personal and family wealth may help him reach his $20 million spending goal but overcoming a well-known incumbent with a record-breaking fundraising haul is a tall task.