Money is pouring into local primary races, with the district attorney’s race leading the pack with more than $50,000 in contributions to three Republican candidates between July and December, according to campaign finance reports.
Lantana attorney Karen Alexander, 37, leads with more than $22,000 raised during that period, just ahead of incumbent District Attorney Paul Johnson, 55, who raised just more than $20,000. A third GOP candidate, Denton attorney Hank Paine, 61, trailed with more than $10,000 in contributions. Both challengers still have a way to go, however, before catching up to the more than $48,000 that Johnson has on hand for the contested March 4 Republican primary election, according to the reports filed recently.
The county judge’s race has also drawn interest from contributors, with the 68-year-old incumbent Mary Horn leading her two challengers with nearly $15,000 raised during the filing period and nearly $16,000 in contributions on hand.
Her two GOP primary challengers have trailed, with Corinth Mayor Paul Ruggiere, 48, reporting $1,300 in contributions.
Highland Village attorney Sherman Swartz, 55, reported receiving no contributions during the filing period, according to the records.
But none of the countywide candidates can compare to the campaign contributions in the races for the Texas House.
Incumbent District 64 state Rep. Myra Crownover, 66, R-Denton — who is facing a GOP primary challenger — raised $90,666, compared to the $20,264 in contributions reported by her opponent, Denton insurance agent Read King, 44. Waiting in the wings for the November general election is Democratic candidate Emy Lyons, 45, a registered nurse, who reported receiving just more than $1,000.
And District 63 state Rep. Tan Parker, 42, R-Flower Mound, reported raising $88,350 even though he does not have a primary challenger. Democrat Daniel Moran, 21, a courier, has filed to face Parker in the November election and reported raising $1,260.
District 106 state Rep. Pat Fallon, 46, a Republican from Frisco, reported $9,843 in contributions but likewise has no GOP primary opponent. Fallon will face Democrat Lisa Osterholt, 45, a business analyst from Little Elm who reported raising $1,970.
Money matters in political campaigns and can help an unknown candidate get his or her name out to voters, said Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, associate professor of political science at the University of North Texas.
“The incumbent has all the name recognition, all the experience,” he said. “How do you get your name out there to counteract that?”
He said voters can be won over by face-to-face contact, but that takes time and energy.
“You can’t underestimate a handshake,” he said. “That can happen in a local contest, but that takes a lot of work by the candidate.”
Contributions were also reported in other contested primary races in Denton County, including:
County Clerk: In the GOP primary, candidate Juli A. Luke, 44, a senior criminal clerk in the County Clerk’s Office, collected the most with $10,375 in contributions. D’Lynne Shelton, 39, chief deputy of the County Clerk’s Office, reported $500 in donations. Incumbent Cynthia Mitchell is running for an open justice of the peace seat. No Democrat has filed.
County Criminal Court No. 5: In the race to fill the seat being vacated by incumbent Richard Podgorski, GOP primary candidate Coby Waddill, 43, an attorney, reported $15,845 in contributions and candidate Victor “Vic” Rivera, 42, also an attorney, reported $6,890 for the filing period. No Democrats have filed.
County Criminal Court No. 3: Incumbent Judge David Garcia, 55, trailed challenger George Mitcham, 45, an attorney, in contributions. Garcia reported $14,750 in contributions, while Mitcham reported $17,491. No Democrats filed for the seat.
Precinct 1 Constable: GOP challenger Johnny W. Hammons, 50, a retired deputy constable, outpaced incumbent Constable Jesse Flores, 44, in campaign contributions. Hammons reported $8,780 in contributions during the filing period. Flores reported receiving no contributions, but a Friends of Jesse Flores committee reported receiving about $4,102, of which more than half was donated by Flores, according to records. No Democrat filed for the position.
Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace: Incumbent Republican J.W. Hand, 77, was out-collected by GOP challenger Al Filidoro, 61, a Flower Mound attorney who reported receiving $6,541 in contributions to Hand’s $1,350 during the July-December filing period. GOP candidates Harris Hughey, 54, an attorney, and Scott Smith, 59, who is self-employed, reported receiving no contributions. No Democrats filed.
Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace: Of the six Republican candidates filing for the open seat, District Attorney’s office investigator Michael Oglesby, 54, reported the most contributions with $4,550 during the filing period. Mike Sweet, 54, a property crimes detective with the Denton Police Department, was second with $2,997 followed by current County Clerk Cynthia Mitchell, 41, who reported raising $1,950, mostly through a Friends of Cynthia Mitchell committee. Michael A. Brucia, 54, a Denton businessman, reported $800 in donations, and Sanger businessman Paul Moore, 51, reported just less than $500 in contributions. Candidate Danny Spindle, 57, a Sanger municipal court judge and a manufacturing production manager, reported no contributions for the period. Incumbent Mike Bateman is retiring. No Democrats filed for the position.
Precinct 6 Justice of the Peace: In the race to fill the open seat being vacated by incumbent Patty Larson, Tom Washington, 57, an accountant of Carrollton, reported receiving $7,156 in contributions, and attorney Gary W. Blanscet, 63, also of Carrollton, reported $200 in contributions. No Democrats filed.
None of the six Democrats who filed for office in Denton County is facing a primary opponent in the March 4 election.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.