As hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into two Texas House races based in Arlington this month, much of the money went directly to voters’ mailboxes in the form of campaign fliers, according to campaign finance reports released this week.
Two Democratic state representatives, Chris Turner of Burleson and Paula Pierson of Arlington, are fighting to hold on to their seats against spirited Republican challenges. Bill Zedler, a former state representative, is trying to win back his seat from Turner. Former Arlington Councilwoman Barbara Nash is running against Pierson.
The two races are among the most competitive in North Texas right now. This week, the campaigns were required to report their fundraising and expenditure activity from Sept. 24 to Oct. 23.
All four candidates reported large in-kind donations spent on direct mail. Voters in the two districts have seen the result: a steady stream of campaign mailers, many of them portraying opponents in an unfavorable light.
Zedler reported raising the most, $437,219, with $53,454 left at the end of the reporting period. More than half of Zedler’s contributions came from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a political action committee that usually supports Republicans. The group gave Zedler $257,630, nearly all in in-kind contributions, records show.The PAC spent $130,000 on television advertising and $126,729 on direct mail.
Turner reported raising $217,126 and $166,399 remaining. The largest donor was the Democratic-leaning Texans for Insurance Reform, which spent its entire $51,467 contribution to Turner on direct mail.
That PAC was also Pierson’s most generous donor, giving her $55,416, with $15,406 spent directly on campaign mail, according to her finance report. Overall, Pierson raised $220,163 and had $101,014 left over.
Nash took in $163,183 and reported $61,717 remaining. Like Zedler, she received a big boost from Texans for Lawsuit Reform. The group gave her $64,381, with $50,556 of that an in-kind contribution on direct mail.
Libertarian Colin Sewards is also running against Pierson. His campaign finance report was not available on the Texas Ethics Commission’s website Tuesday.