Runoff elections in Texas primaries are notoriously long. From the time the initial March primaries are over and a crowded field is cleared, the remaining two candidates have nearly three more months of campaigning before voters make their final choice. Often, this setup causes the person in the lead to lose momentum and the “underdog” to emerge victorious. This is exactly what happened in Texas House District 13.
Spanning seven counties in Central Texas, the HD 13 seat was occupied by State Representative Leighton Schubert who shocked politicos when he announced — just a few weeks before the filing deadline — that not only was he declining to seek re-election, but he also intended to resign his position before the current term was over. Schubert cited the need to focus on his family.
The initial primary saw six candidates — five male and one female — throw their hat in the ring. Bellville businesswoman and homeschool mom Jill Wolfskill earned first place at 38.47% of the vote, with Grimes County Judge Ben Leman close on her heels with 36.28%. In the runoff, Leman overtook Wolfskill 57.3% to 42.7%.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 13 – By The Numbers|
|Ben Leman – Primary||Ben Leman – Runoff||Jill Wolfskill – Primary||Jill Wolfskill – Runoff|
|Total Money Raised||$75,137.50||$325,318.61||$125,812.72||$253,177.58|
|Total Number of Donations||109||103||135||93|
|Average Donation Amount||$689.33||$3,158.43||$931.95||$2,722.34|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$26,345.00||$9,745.00||$42,307.52||$10,390.00|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||64||27||90||48|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||35.06%||3%||33.63%||4.1%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$48,792.50||$315,573.61||$83,505.20||$242,787.58|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||45||76||45||45|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||64.94%||97%||66.37%||95.9%|
|Cost Per Vote||$19.66||$28.39||$17.08||$35.00|
Schubert managed to avoid the ire of both the more liberal House leadership team as well as the Republican party’s conservative wing. Based on the financial contributors to Schubert’s successor, Leman, it appears he will align more closely with liberal-to-moderate House Republicans, but only time will tell. Given the high stakes of the 2019 Legislative Session, particularly due to the open race for House Speaker, Leman may be forced to choose a side, whereas Schubert was not.
Key Takeaways from the HD 13 Race:
Before you go…
Both Leman and Wolfskill loaned themselves money to run for HD 13, and both made sure they were repaid later with campaign dollars. Leman repaid himself $26,202.76 while Wolfskill reimbursed herself $36,672.02 from her campaign. Both candidates did so before the runoff was over. While it’s not unusual for candidates to repay their personal loans with other people’s campaign donations, it’s typically done after the election with any remaining money. It’s difficult to justify doing so before the election is over, when dollars that could have gone to influencing voters instead went to making sure both candidates were made whole financially.
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.