Arguably the most surprising electoral upset in the Texas Republican Party primary occurred in House District 20 (HD20). This district is comprised of Burnet and Milam counties, along with the northern portion of Williamson County. The race saw two-term incumbent State Representative Marsha Farney face off with, and ultimately lose to, Colonel Terry Wilson, a retired U.S. Army veteran.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 20 – By The Numbers|
|Marsha Farney (I)||Terry Wilson|
|Total Money Raised||$201,372||$138,733|
|Total Number of Donations||215||100|
|Average Donation Amount||$936.61||$1,387.33|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$12,725||$23,359|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||48||62|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||6.32%||16.84%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$188,647||$115,374|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||167||38|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||93.68%||83.16%|
|Cost Per Vote||$25.22||$7.20|
Despite only serving two terms, State Rep. Farney had been appointed to multiple key committees in the Texas House, including the House Committee on State Affairs and the House Public Education Committee. Rumored to be tapped by House Speaker Joe Straus as the next chair of the Public Education Committee, Farney received $30,000 from the Texas House Leadership Fund (a PAC under the direction of Speaker Straus).
Colonel Terry Wilson raised significantly less money and spent far less than his opponent, yet managed to win the election by almost 3,000 votes.
Key takeaways from the HD20 race:
Before you go…
An interesting note from our analysis:
When looking at donations to candidates, the date of the gift often speaks more loudly than the amount. While this seems contrary to conventional wisdom, the donation date reveals true levels of support. Lots of people are willing to risk capital, but it’s when they risk that capital that determines their impact.
An example: Colonel Wilson received large support from multiple conservative advocacy groups. Both the Empower Texans PAC and Texas Homeschool Coalition PAC made their donations in February 2016, while Texans for Education Reform PAC and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC made their donations in April 2016. The significance? The Republican primary election date was March 1, 2016. Empower Texans PAC and Texas Homeschool Coalition PAC invested without knowing whether Colonel Wilson would win or not, whereas Texans for Education Reform PAC and Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC did not donate until the outcome was already determined. While Colonel Wilson undoubtedly appreciates all the financial support he received, one suspects he’ll remember who backed him while there was still risk involved.
Our Race to Raise series takes a deeper look at the most high-profile races of the election cycle, focusing specifically on money raised by those seeking to serve in public office. Stay tuned for the next installment.