To understand the dynamics at play in the Largent vs. Lang race for House District 60, think back for a moment to the 2016 primary elections. At that time, skirmishes between the liberal and conservative factions inside the Republican Party were brewing into a full scale civil war. HD 60 was home to one of the most powerful liberal Republican lawmakers in Texas, former State Representative Jim Keffer. Keffer had become a top target for the party’s conservative faction. When Keffer decided to step down, conservative State Representative Mike Lang prevailed over Keffer’s chosen successor in an open race.
The 2018 race was Round Two of a Keffer-backed successor vs. Lang. Jim Largent, superintendent of Granbury ISD, was openly supported by Keffer and many of Texas’ more liberal Republican advocacy groups. Largent, Keffer, and these outside groups were ultimately unsuccessful as Lang easily won reelection.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 60 – By The Numbers|
|Mike Lang (I)||Jim Largent|
|Total Money Raised||$417,531||$125,638|
|Total Number of Donations||353||206|
|Average Donation Amount||$1,182.87||$609.89|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$119,378.61||$69,856|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||274||150|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||28.59%||55.6%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$298,151.9||$55,782.49|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||79||55|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||71.41%||44.4%|
|Cost Per Vote||$26.32||$9.99|
This race was a marquee bout in the 2018 Republican Primary between the conservative and liberal wings of the party. Historically, once lawmakers get to Austin, they become reluctant to buck the moderate/liberal status-quo, fearing they will garner a primary opponent who receives money from the lobby. By all accounts Lang is one of the most conservative legislators in the Texas House. His strong reelection will signal to many conservatives that it is now safe to follow through on campaign promises without fear.
Key Takeaways from the HD 60 Race:
Before you go…
It’s not unusual for a sitting Texas House Speaker to donate funds to various candidates running for state representative. But what happens when there’s no sitting Speaker? A look at Lang’s donor list reveals he received contributions from several other incumbent lawmakers who may be interested in becoming Speaker, most notably $2,500 from State Representative James Frank, $2,000 from State Representative Ron Simmons, and $1,000 from State Representative Phil King. King has filed paperwork for the job, and Frank and Simmons are rumored to be interested in the position. Were these gifts merely lawmakers helping a colleague, or were they contributions with the hopes of possible future support for Speaker?
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.