As an emerging battleground state, Texas is drawing attention and investment. Public officials, party operatives, and the political donor class are all treating the upcoming 2020 elections in Texas as an election which could make history. Groups on both sides are gearing up to spend big money in targeted Congressional districts, or in the Texas House.
Based on a Reform Austin analysis of campaign finance data from the Texas Ethics Commission and public reporting, here is an overview of the PACs on both sides of the aisle which will collectively spend millions of dollars on Texas elections in 2020:
- Engage Texas Super PAC (R)
Cash-on-hand: $9.27M (Mid-Year FEC filing)
2020 Goal: Increase Republican voter registration and turnout in Texas through “grassroots, direct mail and digital outreach.”
Who: This is the brainchild of wealthy Republican donors, including Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) Chairman Dick Weekley who sits on the Engage Texas board, in response to a request from state Republican leaders back in April. The Super PAC’s chairman is Mano de Ayala. They’re led by Chris Young, a former top staffer at the Republican National Committee. Also on the team is Kristy Wilkinson, former deputy campaign manager for Gov. Greg Abbott’s 2018 reelection bid , and previously the Republican National Committee’s Texas state director. Some of its biggest donors feature familiar faces, such as Paul Foster, Michael & Mary Porter, Ross Perot Jr., and Kelcy Warren.
- Texans for Greg Abbott (R)
Cash-on-hand: $26.32M (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Protect Texas House Republican majority. Reported goal is to spend $150,000 on field operations in up to 33 House districts (nearly $5 million total) to protect incumbent Republicans and help Republican challengers flip competitive Democrat-held districts.
Who: Governor Greg Abbott’s main fundraising committee.
- Texans for Lawsuit Reform (R)
Cash-on-hand: $10.45M (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: TLR is, according to their website, dedicated to “keeping abusive lawsuits from killing jobs and slowing down our economic growth.” This PAC typically supports statewide office holders and moderate-to-liberal Republicans.
Who: Dick Weekley chairs this group, which includes other beneficiaries and advocates of tort reform.
- Leading Texas Forward PAC (R)
Cash-on-hand: No data available yet
2020 Goal: Protect Texas House Republican majority. Their stated goal is to raise $5 million for the 2020 cycle.
Who: Reps. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) jointly created the PAC and are “contribution” and “expenditure” decision makers. Karl Rove is the PAC’s treasurer.
- Texas Leads PAC (R)
Cash-on-hand: $3.002M (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Protect House Republican incumbents.
Who: Set up and entirely funded by outgoing House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton).
- Texas Forever Forward PAC (R)
Cash-on-hand: $2.5M (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: “Texas Forever Forward believes to achieve its highest potential, Texas needs policies that promote limited government and free enterprise, that educate and attract innovative minds, and that create a welcoming climate for economic growth and prosperity. We will support elected officials, candidates, emerging leaders and ideas that are focused on Texas’ challenges. We will promote a message that is optimistic, inclusive, entrepreneurial and future-focused, and advance a shared vision to create the greatest possible opportunity for future generations of Texans.”
Who: Set up and funded entirely by former House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio).
- Associated Republicans of Texas (R)
Cash-on-hand: $1.1M (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: “maintaining the Republican majority in the Texas Legislature and strengthening the future of Republicans in Texas.” Historically, ART has supported moderate to liberal Republicans.
Who: Co-chairmen John L. Nau, III and Hector De Leon.
- Republican Party of Texas (R)
Cash-on-hand: $350,206.24 (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: Protect Republican majority of the Texas Legislature and gain back House seats flipped by Democrats in 2018.
Who: Texas Republican party officials, led by Chairman James Dickey.
Note: A federal Republican Party of Texas PAC is registered with the Federal Ethics Committee, and showed a total of $1,654,532 cash on hand in the period ending October 31, 2019.
- Empower Texans (R)
Cash-on-hand: $8,861.84 (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Spend against moderate incumbent Republicans in the primary through political contributions to more conservative challengers.
Who: East Texas oilman Tim Dunn chairs the hardline conservative group. Big donors also include Farris Wilks, founder of Frac Tech (which he sold in 2011); Kyle Stallings and State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), who run oil companies, and Dick Saulsbury’s engineering/construction company. Together, they make up ET World (see Texans for Fiscal Responsibility below). Created in 2008.
- Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (dba Empower Texans) (R)
Cash-on-hand: $4,981.10 (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Same as Empower Texans above.
Who: ET World. Created in 2018.
- United for Texas PAC (R)
Cash-on-hand: $17,289.00 (November Monthly TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Attacking Democratic candidates in competitive races to turn out Republican voters.
Who: Tim Dunn, chairman of Empower Texans, is the sole donor. Their first investments were $50,000 in monetary contributions for the HD-028 special election, where they focused attacks on the Democratic challenger. They spent $18,086 on mailers in the district, and $14,610 on a voter attitude survey.
- Annie’s List (D)
Cash-on-hand: $262,655.86 (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: Flipping the Texas House for Democrats and electing a woman as Speaker.
Who: Sixteen-year old organization that is dedicated to recruiting, training and supporting progressive women candidates across Texas.
Who: The Board of Directors includes 22 women, including Chair Yvonne Morales Pelayo, and Vice Chair Monica Morgan. The PAC’s top donor this cycle was Claire Dewar with a contribution of $10,000.
- One Texas PAC (D)
Cash-on-hand: $5,857.36 (July semi-annual TEC filing)
2020 Goal: Flip Texas House and protect Democrat incumbent State Reps. Their stated goal is to match the first $100,000 raised.
Who: Chairman Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio).
- Texas House Democratic Campaign Committee (HDCC) (D)
Cash-on-hand: $76,392.45 (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: Flip the Texas House and protect House Democrat incumbents.
Who: Texas House Democrats led by Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin).
- Forward Majority Action Texas (D)
Cash-on-hand: $59,400.44 (8 Day Before Nov. 5, 2019 Election TEC Filing)
2020 Goal: Flip the Texas House for Democrats.
Who: Texas affiliate of a DC-based super PAC that supports Democrats running for State Legislatures.