The race for Texas House District 37, historically a reliable seat for Democrats, was arguably the most interesting upset in the 2018 Texas primary.
During the March primary, State Representative Rene Oliveira faced off against challengers Arturo Alonzo, an Iraq war veteran, and Cameron County Commissioner, Alex Dominguez. The incumbent Oliveira netted only 48% of the primary vote, forcing him into to a runoff with Dominguez. While Dominguez and Oliveira are both attorneys, the similarities end there. Dominguez capitalized on their age difference, asserting on his campaign website, “It’s time we had a state representative who not only wants to lead but has the energy to fight for you in Austin,” a nod to the incumbent’s 60+ years of age in contrast to Dominguez’s youth. He comically added, “Rene Oliveira has been in office since before AOL.”
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 37 – By The Numbers|
|Rene Oliveira (I) – Primary||Rene Oliveira (I) – Runoff||Alex Dominguez – Primary||Alex Dominguez – Runoff|
|Total Money Raised||$248,691.46||$109,880.42||$6,618||$17,525|
|Total Number of Donations||186||70||9||15|
|Average Donation Amount||$1,337.05||$1,569.72||$735.33||$1,168.33|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$10,300||$500||$3,050||$9,350|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||15||1||5||9|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||4.14%||0.45%||46.09%||53.35%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$238,391.46||$109,380.42||$3,568||$8,175|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||171||69||4||6|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||95.86%||99.55%||53.91%||46.65%|
|Cost Per Vote||$84.43||$38.76||$34.10||$14.05|
Oliveira has held this seat in the Texas Legislature for 34 years. This longevity makes Chairman Oliveira (he is the current Chairman of the House Committee on Business and Industry) the fifth most senior legislator out of the 150-members House of Representatives. His loss will leave a hole in the Texas House Democrat caucus; time will tell if Dominguez will be the one to step in and fill the void.
Key Takeaways from the HD 37 Race:
Before you go…
One of the most interesting donations Oliveira received was from Texas Oil and Gas Association, to the tune of $4,000. While TXOGA usually spends most of it’s time investing in Republican campaigns, they still occasionally play in Democrat races. What’s surprising is TXOGA’s support of Oliveira despite what many pro-energy observers would argue is an abysmal record. One such highlight is his vote during the 2017 Legislative Session to require the Commission to hold a public hearing every time a proposed injection well was located in a large municipality – a measure energy producers argued was meant simply to create red tape and slow production. With donations to candidates who vote like this, TXOGA supporters might start asking questions.
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.