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Senate candidates spending big in run up to primary
One of the hottest seats up for grabs in Collin County is state Senate District 8, an office held by Florence Shapiro for the last two decades.
When Shapiro announced her retirement last fall, four candidates announced their intentions to seek the seat. The court decision postponing the primary has not slowed down the candidates' fundraising efforts, with both Republican candidates receiving more than $100,000 in contributions.
Current State Rep. Ken Paxton, a 10-year veteran of the Texas House, leads the way in terms of both contributions and money on hand. For the period from July 1 to Dec. 31, Paxton received $190,500 in contributions and spent $43,600. As of the end of the filing period, Paxton, who ran unopposed in 2010 and has not faced a serious election challenge in the decade he has held office, has $853,000 in the bank.
During the last six months of 2011, Paxton received three $10,000 donations to his campaign. Two of the donations were from Bob Perry, a Houston-based homebuilder. The other was from the Texans for Lawsuit Report PAC. Paxton also received several large donations from the energy and alcohol lobbies, including $3,000 from the Rural Friends of Electric Cooperatives, $2,500 from the Atmos Energy PAC, $1,000 from the Beer Alliance of Texas PAC and $1,000 from the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas PAC.
Whether Paxton has a challenger in the Republican primary remains to be seen. Air Force veteran Scott O'Grady has filed to run, but recently suspended his campaign and has yet to make a decision on whether to remain in the race. If he does continue, he will be forced to overcome a money discrepancy.
From July 1 to Dec. 31, O'Grady raised $124,000. About $47,000 of that money was raised when O'Grady was a candidate for state House District 33, with the rest coming after he announced he was switching to run for the senate seat. During the same period he spent $90,600, leaving him with just shy of $37,000 remaining in the bank, only 4.3 percent of what Paxton has in his campaign fund.
O'Grady received two $10,000 donations, one from state Sen. John Carona and one from Trevor Rees-Jones, the CEO and president of Chief Oil and Gas, a company with natural gas drilling operations in the Barnett Shale. Like Paxton, O'Grady received sizable donations from energy and alcoholic beverage companies, including $1,500 from the Licensed Beverage Distributors PAC and $1,500 from the Exxon Mobil PAC of Texas.
The third man in the state Senate race is Democrat Jack Ternan, who is currently running unopposed. Ternan raised $12,450 during the six-month reporting period, while spending $28,570. With much of the expenditures coming from personal funds, Ternan still has $7,000 remaining in his campaign bank account.
The two biggest contributions to Ternan's campaign have come from Lewisville dentist Robert Morgan, $5,000, and from the Texas Democratic Party, $2,600. He has also received a $4,500 pledge from Morgan, which is not counted in the contribution total since it has not yet been paid.
The fourth candidate is Libertarian Edward Kless, who received no political contributions and spent only $116. He has $511 in the bank.
Currently, the primary elections are scheduled for April 3, but that date could be pushed back if new district maps are not approved by Feb. 6.