Republicans lead in fundraising for Texas’ state legislative elections

Welcome to the Tuesday, February 15, Brew. 

By: Douglas Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Republicans outraise Democrats by 92% in Texas state legislative races
  2. Early filing deadlines show increased activity in school board elections this year
  3. What you need to know about today’s school board recall in San Francisco

Republicans outraise Democrats by 92% in Texas state legislative races

Since the 2020 campaign cycle, Ballotpedia has partnered with Transparency USA to provide campaign finance information for state-level elections in 10 states, including Texas.

New campaign finance filings for Texas’ state legislative races show that between July 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2021, Republican candidates raised 92% more than Democratic candidates.

Ahead of the March 1 primaries, 282 Republican candidates have raised $22.0 million compared to the $8.0 million 197 Democratic candidates have raised—a 92% difference. For Republicans, this averages out to around $78,000 raised per candidate. For Democrats, the average is $41,000.

The largest five fundraisers in each party accounted for between 20 and 30% of their respective party totals. For Republicans, the top five fundraisers raised 27% of the party’s total. For Democrats, the top five made up 21%.

Overall, the three candidates who raised the most money were Mayes Middleton (R) in Senate District 11 ($1,885,523), House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) in House District 21 ($1,870,189), and Kevin Sparks (R) in Senate District 31 ($905,772). 

Middleton, currently a member of the House, and Sparks are both running in contested primaries for open districts. In both races, the winner of the Republican primary likely will win the district since no Democratic candidates filed.  Phelan, the House Speaker, is not facing a primary or general election challenger.

Republicans currently hold an 18-13 majority in the Senate and an 85-65 majority in the House. All 181 districts are up for election in November, with primaries scheduled for March 1.

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Early filing deadlines show increased activity in school board elections this year

We have been seeing increased levels of activity and interest with school board elections over the past year. 

In 2021, we recorded 92 school board recall efforts, the most since we began tracking in 2006. This year we are seeing an average of 2.77 candidates running for school board positions within our coverage scope. That’s on track to be the most candidates per school board position since at least 2018. A 2.77 average for 2022 represents a 50% increase from the 2018 figure.

This is based on candidate filing information for 85 school board positions within our coverage scope that are up for election this year where filing deadlines have passed. We won’t have a full picture until every filing deadline has passed, meaning the 2022 average is likely to change.

The candidates per position metric gives an idea of how many people are running for school boards nationwide. The lower the average, the less competition we are likely to see in these elections. 

Ballotpedia covers school board elections in 470 school districts: the 200 largest districts by student enrollment and all school districts in the 100 largest cities by population.

Today, Feb. 15, we are covering primary elections in six Wisconsin school districts and school board recalls in San Francisco, Calif., and Giltner, Neb.

For more information about school board elections, be sure to subscribe to Ballotpedia’s Hall Pass, a free weekly newsletter designed to keep you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and education policy.

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What you need to know about today’s school board recall in San Francisco

Recall elections against three of the seven members of the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education are taking place today, Feb. 15. The members facing recalls are Gabriela López, Alison Collins, and Faauuga Moliga.

Recall supporters said they were frustrated that schools in the district remained closed for nearly a year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Supporters also said they were upset the board had taken time voting to rename 44 buildings rather than focus on school re-openings.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Jill Tucker, opponents of the recall questioned why the city should hold the recalls when the members’ terms will expire in 2023. López also said, “The people who are behind this don’t know us … they don’t know what we’ve been doing.”

The last San Francisco official to face a recall election was then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein in 1983. Feinstein defeated the recall with 81% of the vote in her favor.

All three board members facing recalls were first elected to four-year terms on Nov. 6, 2018. The other four members of the board were not eligible for recall at the time as they had not yet served in their current terms for at least six months.

If voters recall any of the three members, Mayor London Breed (D), who has endorsed the recall effort, would appoint a replacement.

So far in 2022, Ballotpedia has tracked 25 recall efforts against 66 school board members. Four recalls against seven members have already gone to a vote so far this year. None were successful.

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