PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Wendy Davis remains a fundraising force in the Texas governor’s race but begins the pivotal final push toward Election Day with substantially less money to spend than Republican Greg Abbott, according to new campaign finance figures released Tuesday.
Abbott began July sitting on nearly $36 million — nearly triple the cash Davis has on hand. Already a heavy underdog, the Fort Worth state senator is now confronting deficits not just in polls but financially in a big state where deep pockets are typically essential in elections.
Davis has raised $27 million since her filibuster in the Texas Capitol last summer over new abortion restrictions made her a star among Democrats. That’s already more than what Democrat Bill White raised against Gov. Rick Perry in 2010, but Davis has burned through more than half that money before a single television ad has aired.
“There are the resources available, and will be raised, to compete in the fall,” Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said.
Abbott reported collecting $28.1 million since officially launching his campaign for governor almost exactly a year ago. But the longtime Texas attorney general had been quietly stockpiling money for years, building a bankroll in excess of $20 million before even announcing his candidacy.
The advantages of that head start are beginning to show.
“It’s a big body of water for sure. It can be bigger depending on how Abbott spends it,” said Bill Miller, an Austin lobbyist who has worked for Perry and is a longtime political consultant in Texas. “He owns the airwaves if he wants to.”
Exactly who has been writing the biggest checks to Abbott and Davis in recent months wasn’t immediately clear. Both campaigns made only their bottom-line numbers public before submitting itemized campaign finance reports that were due Tuesday to the Texas Ethics Commission.
Davis has garnered nationwide support while becoming among the most visible Democratic gubernatorial candidates in the country. She’s made coast-to-coast fundraising trips, and more than one in four dollars she raised through the primaries this spring had come from out of state.
The new fundraising totals come two weeks after Davis headlined the Texas Democratic Convention, where she said it was “absurd” to suggest her chances of winning are fading. Her campaign Tuesday downplayed the gap in available cash and highlighted how Davis has attracted more than 140,000 individual donors.
Davis has not disclosed the identity of all her small donors in previous finance reports. Abbott’s campaign attacked Davis again Tuesday over that omission, and said in a statement that Abbott was “overwhelmed by the support” he has received from donors who are 95 percent from Texas.