08/08/19

Top Ten Texas PACs for 2020

These ten Texas PACs have already taken in more than $14 million combined, which they will use to support their favored candidates in the 2020 elections. Some of these PACs are partisan, some are corporate, and some represent the special interests of their industry constituents. Meet the top ten PACs which have collected the most money so far.*

  1. Texans for Lawsuit Reform ($3,686,075) TLR is, according to their website, dedicated to “keeping abusive lawsuits from killing jobs and slowing down our economic growth.” This PAC typically supports statewide office holders and moderate-to-liberal Republicans. Their giving is consistent with that pattern so far this cycle with their biggest donations going to Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and State Rep. Jeff Leach. It’s worth noting that even TLR’s impressive haul represents only five percent of the total money given to Texas candidates and PACs so far this election cycle.
  2. Texas Leads PAC ($3,001,000) This PAC was recently established by the Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen with the stated purpose of supporting incumbent Republicans for reelection. The entire $3,001,000 came as a transfer from Dennis Bonnen’s campaign account. Texas Leads has made no campaign contributions as of the most recent reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission. Bonnen has recently come under fire for asking Michael Quinn Sullivan, a conservative activist and CEO of Empower Texans (ET), to use ET’s PAC money to target a list of Republican House members in the upcoming primary in exchange for giving ET House press credentials. This offer came on the heels of Bonnen threatening to punish any House members who campaigned against sitting members of the House, whether they were Republican or Democrat. In light of this scandal, it will be particularly interesting to watch if anyone else contributes to this PAC, which candidates receive money from, and most importantly, whether Bonnen survives as Speaker.
  3. Texas Forever Forward ($2,500,388) This PAC was recently established by Bonnen’s predecessor as Speaker of the House, Joe Straus. Like Bonnen’s, this PAC was also established with funds from Straus’s campaign account. The PAC’s “Purpose Statement” explains, “We will support elected officials, candidates, emerging leaders and ideas that…will promote a message that is optimistic, inclusive, entrepreneurial and future-focused…” Straus is a liberal Republican who came to power in the Texas House with the help of Democrats. It is unclear whether his PAC will support only Republicans. Straus appointed former Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson, as the PAC’s treasurer. Jefferson was rumored to be a potential U.S. Supreme Court nominee by the Hilary Clinton campaign in 2016. This PAC had spent no money as of the most recent reports. 
  4. ActBlue Texas ($1,373,929) This PAC is dedicated to helping elect Democrats and thus, turn Texas “blue.” Unlike the other PACs on this Top Ten List, donations to ActBlue Texas are generally smaller contributions, with an average donation amount so far this election cycle of $85.22. ActBlue Texas also boasts the most individual donors, at 8,019. Given the high correlation between the number of individual donors and success at the ballot box, Texas Democrats seem to be off to a strong start.
  5. Associated Republicans of Texas ($1,077,693) On the other side of the aisle from ActBlue, Associated Republicans of Texas PAC’s stated purpose is “maintaining the Republican majority in the Texas Legislature and strengthening the future of Republicans in Texas.” Historically, ART has supported moderate to liberal Republicans. They have not made any campaign contributions so far this cycle.
  6. Annie’s List ($757,418) Annie’s List is dedicated to helping elect progressive, pro-choice Democrat women. It’s not surprising to see two Democrat PACs on this top ten list as Democrats have declared Texas is ground zero for their efforts to take political control in 2020.
  7. Texas Association of Realtors PAC ($604,171) Always a powerhouse in Texas politics, Texas Association of Realtors PAC (TREPAC) may not have taken in the most money, but they have by far the most cash-on-hand at $6,455,115. This PAC tends to support liberal Republicans and the occasional Democrat. Their giving so far this cycle confirms that pattern. TREPAC has made substantial contributions to statewide officeholders, numerous Republicans and several Democrats.
  8. Gulf States Toyota Inc. PAC ($572,290) So far, this PAC is funded exclusively this election cycle by T. Dan Friedkin, CEO of Gulf States Toyota. Like most corporate PACs, this PAC tends to be motivated to support those in power and thus to advance the interests of the corporate shareholders, rather than  any ideological position.
  9. Ryan Texas PAC ($448,058) Founded and funded primarily by G. Brint Ryan, a tax consultant and entrepreneur, this PAC tends to support Republican statewide officeholders and Republican candidates. In the last election cycle, Ryan PAC turned political heads by donating to Victor Leal, conservative challenger to liberal Republican State Senator, Kel Seliger. So far this cycle, Ryan PAC has given $100,000 donations to Abbott, Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
  10. Texas Land Title Association PAC ($434,192) This non-partisan special interest PAC lobbies the Texas legislature on behalf of the Texas land title insurance industry. Their website brags that lawmakers passed 100 percent of the PAC’s legislative priorities in the last session, including property tax and school finance reform. It seems TLTA PAC is building on those successes with an impressive fundraising haul already for the 2020 elections. Interestingly, TRTL PAC has given equal amounts, $2,500 each, to the Texas Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Texas. These donations suggest a desire to curry favor rather than an ideological preference.

Next we’ll show you the real winners and losers in the race to raise campaign cash as we head into 2020. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your inbox.

*We’ll update this list every time additional campaign finance reports are released.

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