Race to Raise: Boos vs. Bowers
Is Texas House District 113 (seven percent of Dallas County, including portions of Garland, Mesquite, and Rowlett) really a swing district? It depends. According to voting trends? Yes. According to the money? Not even close.
When it comes to the financial arms race for House District 113, there really is no competition. 33-year old Republican nominee Jonathan Boos significantly outpaces Democrat nominee Rhetta Bowers (pictured left), no matter how you slice the data. Still, Dr. Mark Jones of Rice University, who has analyzed all Texas House districts according to voters’ partisanship, affinity for Trump, and ideology, scores HD 113 as one of the most likely to flip from red to blue.
Both Boos and Bowers ran for this seat in 2016, and both fell to then-incumbent House Representative Cindy Burkett (R). Boos succombed in the primary and Bowers in the general. This time around, however, Burkett chose to pursue a state senate seat, leaving the HD 113 seat open. (Burkett unsuccessfully challenged State Senator Bob Hall in the primary.)
Jonathan Boos is in-house counsel at J2B Holdings, LLC, an e-commerce company he co-founded with his brother (and largest donor) Joshua Boos. Rhetta Bowers is a wife, mother, part-time educator, and community activist.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers*:
|Texas House District 113 – By The Numbers|
|Jonathan Boos (R)||Rhetta Bowers (D)|
|Total Money Raised||$145,595.91||$23,643.39|
|Total Number of Donations||750||325|
|Average Donation Amount||$194.13||$72.75|
|Total Money Raised In-District||$10,196.00||$3,080.00|
|Total Number of Donations In-District||335||43|
|Percent of All Money Raised In-District||7%||13.03%|
|Total Money Raised Outside District||$135,399.91||$20,563.39|
|Total Number of Donations Outside District||415||282|
|Percent of All Money Raised Outside District||93%||86.97%|
|Total Expenditures in Primary||$143,719.01||$11,602.05|
|Total Votes in Primary||4,588||4,155|
|Cost Per Vote in Primary||$31.32||$2.79|
Boos won a three-way race primary outright, avoiding a costly runoff, with 54.4% of the vote against U.S. Marine Charlie Lauersdorf and Sunnyvale Mayor Jim Phaup. Bowers triumphed over Dallas Fire & Rescue veteran Billy Ingram, 64.59% to 35.41%, to secure the Democrat Party nomination for HD 113.
Key Takeaways from the HD 113 Race:
- Hair and Nails and Clothes, Oh My!
Bowers’s campaign finance reports show she’s not shy to spend donor money to look good. She spent campaign cash at hair salons five times, nail salons twice, and apparently worked on her wardrobe with donor money at Charming Charlies, Clothes Mentor, Macy’s, and Chicos. While these expenditures may not be illegal, they also may not inspire confidence in Bowers’s potential stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
- In-District Donors Equals Votes
Since Bowers and Boos have both sought this particular seat before, they should be on an even playing field in the district. It seems, however, Boos made the most of his experience. The latest reports show Boos has seven times more in-district donors than Bowers. An individual who shells out hard-earned cash to support a candidate is very likely to show up to vote and will nudge others to vote as well. More than half of Boos’s 335 in-district donors gave ten dollars or less, so the financial total may not be impressive, but the political value is priceless.
- Incoming Help for Bowers
Bowers recently scored the endorsement of former President Barack Obama. She also received $1,000 from Flippable, a national PAC established in January, 2017, by former Clinton campaign staffers. Their stated purpose is to identify the most “flippable” seats in targeted states and direct Democrat money to help progressive candidates turn those states blue.
Before you go…
Incumbent State Representatives James Frank (R) and Ron Simmons (R) donated $1,500 and $2,000 respectively to Boos’s primary race in February. The timing is significant. Only a handful of sitting Republican legislators are known to choose sides during a primary fight; Frank and Simmons are not among them, but both are rumored to be considering a bid for the Texas House Speakership.
*These numbers are based on the most recent available data from the Texas Ethics Commission. Candidates and PACs are required to file new reports October 9. As soon as new information is released, Transparency Texas will clean it up, make it available, and provide important updates.
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.