The first financial reports of the 2022 Texas Governor’s race show Gov. Abbott with a strong financial lead, but challengers may be able to use time to their advantage.
Next year, Texas Republicans will select their nominee for governor in a race to decide the future of the state. This race will be one of the marquee contests for Texas Republicans, as Gov. Greg Abbott has already drawn five primary challengers — more than double the number he received from within his party four years ago.
Citing extended lockdowns and executive overreach in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, as well as unfulfilled Republican priorities, Abbott’s primary challengers are attacking his conservative bonafides.
While much of the attention in the race for Governor has focused on Abbott and former State Sen. Don Huffines, stand up comedian and talk show host Chad Prather has also launched a spirited campaign against the incumbent. Additionally, Decatur attorney Paul Belew and veteran Kurt Schwab are also looking to make their marks in the race.
Former Republican Party of Texas Chairman Allen West has also entered the race against Abbott next year. West entered the campaign after the fundraising cutoff for the July financial report, meaning we will not know the extent of West’s fundraising until the next finance report, due mid-January, 2022.
Abbott has been highlighting his leadership of the state over the past four years, as well as what he views as important legislative results and victories ahead of the race. Meanwhile, Huffines has taken aim at Abbott over key legislative priorities, particularly border security, property taxes, and election integrity. Prather, in addition to calling out those same priorities, has also been vocal regarding his opposition to mask and vaccine mandates.
With less than a year left until the scheduled Republican primary for 2022 — although this date might be changed — the candidates are already staking their positions on the field through campaign contributions. The first campaign finance reports since the challengers declared their intent to run offers Texans an initial glimpse at who is amassing the greatest support on the right.
Here is a look at how the candidates’ finances stack up for the 2022 cycle, as of the most recent reports.
|Greg Abbott||Don Huffines||Chad Prather||Paul Belew|
|Total Number of Donations||13,060||844||598||2|
|Average Donation Amount||$1,598.20||$4,885.20||$81.77||$550|
|Top Individual Donor(s)||James D Pitcock Jr, Kelcy L Warren, Kenny A and Lisa Troutt, Michael & Mary Porter ($1,000,000)||Phillip Huffines ($2,000,000)||Yolanda Madden Smith ($4,500)||Donald Lori ($1,000)|
|Percentage from PACs/Entities||19%||0%||0%||0%|
|Percentage from Individual Donors||81%||100%||100%||100%|
*No campaign finance report data available for Kurt Schwab during this time period.
Governor Abbott is far ahead of the pack in terms of fundraising, reporting a cash-on-hand advantage of over $48 million compared to his closest competitor, Don Huffines. Interestingly, Abbott holds the distinction of having only the second highest average donation, reporting a nearly $1,600 average contribution amount from his donors. After contributions from his own PAC, four individual donors top the list of Abbott’s early supporters, each giving $1 million to the governor’s campaign account.
Huffines is the top fundraiser among the challengers at the moment, reporting $4,123,108 in contributions, $5 million in loans, and cash-on-hand of over $7.5 million. With only 844 donors (less than both Abbott and Prather) his average donation amount is the highest at $4,885. A single donation of $2 million from brother Phillip Huffines accounted for nearly half his total contributions in the first half of 2021. Far behind Huffines in the fundraising category is Chad Prather, who brought in $48,897 for his campaign. Paul Belew rounds out the field with $1,100 raised.
Due to redistricting later this year, the primary election for 2022 is likely to be delayed. Traditionally, it is believed that delayed primaries allow challengers to somewhat level the playing field versus their incumbent opponents, providing further time to fundraise and build support among volunteers and the grassroots.
The sheer number of primary challengers may prove difficult for Abbott as well. If they can diffuse the primary vote enough to prevent Abbott from winning more than 50 percent, the top challenger will face Abbott head-on in a runoff.
Incumbents typically garner support from PACs and lobbyists, as they seek to curry favor with those in power. It is no surprise then, that Abbott is the only candidate to report financial support — nearly 19 percent of his total contributions — from PACs and entities that are not individual donors.