Scott Ball and Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / Rivard Report
The two candidates vying for Texas’s 23rd Congressional District show very different campaign donor profiles, the most recent Federal Election Commission data shows.
In what is considered a swing district, the contest between Republican incumbent Will Hurd, who is seeking his third term, and Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, is likely to be one of the most expensive Congressional races in Texas.
If Ortiz Jones wins in November, she will be the first openly gay, Filipina-American to represent Texas in Congress. Hurd, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was the first black Republican elected to Congress from Texas.
Between January 2017 and May 2018, Ortiz Jones’ campaign reported raising $1.1 million from individuals, party committees, and the candidate’s own contributions. Hurd’s campaign reported $1.6 million in contributions through the end of March.
The filing deadline for second-quarter campaign finance reports was July 15, according to the FEC.
Nearly $1 million of Ortiz Jones’ contributions comes from individual donors, many of whom were out of state, according to FEC data. The candidate raised more than $800,000 in out-of-state contributions, much of that from California and Massachusetts residents, who gave $186,000 and $300,000, respectively. Ortiz Jones had contributions from 43 states, including Alaska.
More than 700 donations from Massachusetts were from the nonprofit ActBlue, which develops technology to connect donors to Democratic candidates. Overall, 2,000 individual contributions came from the usually Democratic state.
Hurd’s individual donor base is closer to home, with more than $325,000 in contributions from Texas. That total accounted for about 57 percent of all the donations from individuals the campaign received as of March. The remainder of the money came from 25 other states.
One noticeable aspect about both candidates’ donors is that few match the demographics of the district in which they’re running. District 23, which expands southeast of El Paso and contains hundreds of miles of the U.S. border with Mexico, has a population that is mostly Hispanic, rural, and working class, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey estimates. The median household income in District 23 is $51,293.
The majority of individual donors to Hurd’s campaign are CEOs, attorneys, consultants, homemakers, and small business owners, and many are retired, according to the FEC data.
Ortiz Jones’ financial backers include numerous donors who represent organizations, or “conduits” that had earmarked funds for the campaign. Other contributions came from retirees, attorneys, and real estate professionals.
Ortiz Jones also received more than $25,000 from artists, graphic designers, and writers, the data shows.
The candidates will continue to raise funds until they face off in the November elections. Early voting for the Nov. 6 elections begins Oct. 22. The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9.
You can download the data behind this story on the Federal Election Commission Campaign Finance Disclosure Portal.