10/02/18

Race to Raise: Metzger vs. Neave

The Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is ground zero in the war to turn Texas blue, and the battle between Texas House Representative Victoria Neave (D) (pictured left) and challenger Deanna Metzger (R) is front and center. Transparency Texas has taken a look at the money in the Johnson vs. Rinaldi race for House District 115 (Northwest Dallas County and portions of Coppell, Irving, and Farmers Branch) as well as the Powell vs. Burton race for Senate District 10 (Tarrant County). This week we turn our attention to another close Metroplex match-up,  House District 107, which encompasses parts of Dallas, Mesquite, and Garland.

Neave, first elected to the Texas House in 2016, flipped the seat to the Democrat column after defeating then-incumbent Ken Sheets (R). She was off to an auspicious beginning, earning the distinction “Freshman of the Year” by the Texas House Democratic Caucus and “Elected Official of the Year” by the Texas Democratic Women. In December, 2017, however, Neave had an embarrassing and disturbing run-in with the Dallas Police Department after she crashed her BMW into a tree and was found with a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit.

Neave’s challenger, Deanna Metzger, hopes to flip the seat back to red. Metzger faced two other candidates in the Republican primary — Joe Ruzicka, former Navy aviator and John McCain staffer, and Brad Perry, an attorney for a Dallas area pro-life organization. Ruzicka edged out Perry by one vote to make it into a run-off against Metzger. Never think your vote doesn’t count.

Here’s a quick look at the numbers:

Texas House District 107 – By The Numbers
Victoria Neave (I) Deanna Metzger
Total Money Raised $205,688.21 $174,001.26
Total Number of Donations 454 210
Average Donation Amount $453.06 $828.58
Total Money Raised In-District $23,077.00 $10,158.06
Total Number of Donations In-District 153 72
Percent of All Money Raised In-District 11.22% 5.84%
Total Money Raised Outside District $182,611.21 $163,843.20
Total Number of Donations Outside District 301 138
Percent of All Money Raised Outside District 88.78% 94.16%
Total Expenditures in Primary and
Runoff*
$48,901.57 $175,086.63*
Total Votes in Primary and Runoff* 6494 5684*
Cost Per Vote in Primary $7.53 $30.80
Total Expenditures $98,035.46 $185,644.78

 

Ultimately, Metzger won the primary, but not without controversy. Metzger faced allegations that she did not meet the residency requirements to represent HD107. Apparently Metzger and her husband’s primary residence is in Tarrant County, but they also own several homes and a business in the district.

Key Takeaways from the HD 107 Race:

  1. Cash-On-Hand Favors the Incumbent
    As of the most recent reports, Neave and Metzger were close in overall fundraising, having brought in $205,688.21 and $174,001.26, respectively. Metzger, however, has depleted her cash fending off opponents in the primary and run-off, while Neave had a clear path to represent the Democrats. Reports showed an enormous cash advantage for Neave, $95,765.61 to Metzger’s $20,372.70. It is not unusual for the incumbent to have more in the bank, but Dallas is an expensive media market, and Metzger cannot afford to be too far behind. New campaign finance reports are due this month; voters will soon learn if Metzger has been able to close the gap.
  2. Attention and Money from Across the State
    Both Neave and Metzger have raised a remarkably large portion of their campaign cash from outside the district. Neave has received nearly 89% of all donations from outside HD 107; Metzger, 94%. This much outside attention proves the importance of this swing district. Republicans clearly believe Metzger has a legitimate chance of bringing the seat back into the red column, and Democrats aren’t giving it up  without a fight.
  3. Conservatives Show Strong Support for Metzger
    The list of donors to Metzger’s campaign reads like a Who’s Who of conservative PACs, donors, activists, and legislators from across the state.  Conservative PACs Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life are the first and second names on her donor list. Likewise, known conservative power players Darlene and David Pendery and Jamie and Kyle Stallings are among her top ten donors. Tea Party activists Julie McCarty and Cathie Adams are on her donor list as well as a sizable number of legislators and candidates including Texas House Rep. Jonathan Stickland, Mary Catherine Huffines (wife of Texas Senator Don Huffines), Rep. Briscoe Cain,  Rep. Matt Rinaldi, Jonathan Boos, and Bunni Pounds. Metzger’s conservative positions, including her opposition to sanctuary cities, support for stricter voter ID laws, and promise to vote for a House Speaker elected solely by the Republican caucus, have paid off.

Before you go…

In the last year and a half, Metzger has received $100,000 in loans from Wilbur Geyer and Chuck Geyer, owners of Spur Industrial, LLC, a Mesquite-based construction company for oil and gas facilities. Loans are becoming more common in political fundraising. Often the lender will forgive the loan if the candidate loses or agree to be repaid only if there is money left over after the election.

 

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.

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