How can you tell which local political race is the most hotly contested?
Like most things in life, by following the money.
The campaign for congressional candidate Sima Ladjevardian, an Iranian-born attorney and activist, has raised more than that of any other Democrat involved in a locally relevant race that will be contested on Nov. 3. She had received more than $1.67 million in contributions as of the Federal Election Commission’s June 30 filing deadline – more than twice as much as the campaign for U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who is seeking a 14th term in District 18.
But in District 2, where Ladjevardian is running, her fundraising pales in comparison to that of Republican incumbent Dan Crenshaw. The Scottish-born former Navy SEAL, who was first elected in 2018 to represent a congressional district that includes the western part of Oak Forest and the Heights area, had raised more $9.29 million as of the end of June.
Crenshaw’s campaign also had more than $4.02 million in remaining funds, leaving him with plenty of resources heading into the final stage of election season. Ladjevardian had a little more than $545,000 cash on hand, which might still be enough to mount a serious threat.
A late-August column in the Washington Post suggested Ladjevardian, who has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama and former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, could unseat Crenshaw come November.
According to the latest federal, state and county campaign finance reports, Democrats hold a significant fundraising advantage over their Republican opponents in just about every other race that’s specific to the area. Jackson Lee had more than $69,000 in cash on hand, compared to a little more than $33,000 for her Republican challenger, Wendell Champion.
In the race for the District 148 seat in the Texas House of Representatives, according to Oct. 5 reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, Democrat Penny Morales Shaw had about a 5-to-1 fundraising lead over Republican Luis La Rotta. He had nearly $5,700 in remaining funds in his bid to turn a historically blue seat red. Morales Shaw, who beat incumbent Anna Eastman in a July primary runoff, had more than $26,000 in cash on hand.
The most recent filing for Democratic State Rep. Jarvis Johnson of District 139 was July 15, at which point his campaign had nearly $60,000 in cash on hand. He does not have a Republican opponent but is facing Libertarian Richard Trojacek, whose Oct. 5 filing shows that his campaign has neither raised any money nor spent any money.
The race to succeed Chris Hollins as Harris County Clerk is roughly even, at least in terms of fundraising. Democrat Teneshia Hudspeth has more than $29,000 in cash on hand, compared to more than $25,000 for Republican Stan Stanart, who previously served in the elected role.
Some other key races in the county are not as close from a fundraising standpoint, with Democrats holding a decided edge. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez had nearly $92,000 in remaining funds as of Oct. 5, while Republican challenger Joe Danna had less than $8,500 in cash on hand as of the July 15 filing period. Both have deep ties to the area, with Gonzalez having grown up in the Heights and Danna having grown up in Lindale Park and later living in Forest Pines and Mangum Manor.
Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Ann Harris Bennett, another incumbent Democrat, has nearly $28,000 in cash on hand. Neither of her opponents, Republican Chris Daniel and Libertarian Billy Pierce, have any according to online campaign finance reports.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Democrat, is in a similar position. Her campaign had nearly $30,000 in remaining funds as of the July 15 filing, while Republican challenger Mary Nan Huffman had raised $1,600 and also spent that much.
Christian Dashaun Menefee, who beat Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan in the Democratic primary in March, has more than $69,000 in remaining campaign funds. Republican John Nation, meanwhile, reported no contributions and expenditures totaling $16.10.