Arguably the most heated Republican primary race in the greater Houston area in 2016 occurred in State House District 150 (HD150). The race featured twelve-year incumbent State Representative Debbie Riddle, along with three challengers, including local grassroots leader Valoree Swanson – the eventual winner.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers:
|Texas House District 150 – By The Numbers|
|Debbie Riddle (I)||Valoree Swanson|
|Total Money Raised||$265,709||$282,256|
|Total Number of Donations||203||266|
|Average Donation Amount||$1,308.91||$1,061.11|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$6,250||$29,163|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||26||138|
|Percent of All Money Raised From In-District||2.35%||10.33%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$259,459||$253,093|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||177||128|
|Percent of All Money Raised From Outside District||97.65%||89.67%|
|Cost Per Vote||$32.93||$20.30|
Located in the northeast corner of Houston, HD150 encompasses most of the city of Spring, along with small portions of Tomball and The Woodlands.
For years State Rep. Debbie Riddle was considered by some to be one of the more conservative members of the Texas House of Representatives. In recent years, however, her voting record failed to meet the expectations of many constituents and outside advocacy groups. To many, the breaking point for their support of her came during the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature. She cast the deciding vote in the House Calendars Committee (arguably the most powerful committee in the Texas House of Representatives), killing two major, conservative bills at the eleventh hour – American Law for American Courts (ALAC) and the Pro-Life Health Insurance Reform Bill.
These actions drew the ire of conservative groups across the state, along with three challengers in the subsequent Republican primary. The most serious of these challengers, Valoree Swanson, was a long-time grassroots activist and community leader. A quick look at the numbers shows Ms. Swanson out-raised State Rep. Riddle by $16,547.00. While not a significant monetary difference, a challenger who is able to raise more funds than such a long-time incumbent is indeed unusual.
There was a remarkable difference in the amount the candidates spent to earn each vote. State Rep. Riddle spent twelve dollars more to earn each vote cast for her than Ms. Swanson spent, suggesting Ms. Swanson utilized resources more efficiently.
Key takeaways from the HD150 race:
Before you go…
An interesting note from our analysis:
Outgoing State Representative Patricia Harless, whose district borders HD 150, donated $10,000 from her campaign account to State Rep. Riddle’s unsuccessful re-election effort. In an effort to spend down their campaign accounts, members of the legislature not seeking re-election often use their own campaign funds to help their colleagues.
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.