WILL WEISSERT,Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Two of Texas’ rising political stars said Monday they’ve raked in big fundraising bucks.
Republican George P. Bush raised money at a clip befitting his famous political pedigree, collecting $2 million for his campaign for land commissioner between Jan. 1 and June 30. Meanwhile, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis said she raised nearly $1 million just in the last two weeks of June.
Davis became a national sensation by leading a one-woman, 12-plus-hour filibuster on June 25 that delayed the Texas Legislature’s passing of sweeping new limits on abortion statewide.
Her campaign said Davis raised $933,000 between June 17 and 30 — with $580,000 of that coming from Texas donors — and now has more than $1.06 million cash on-hand.
Texas rules prohibit officeholders from fundraising until 20 days after the regular legislative session, which ended May 27. They then were required to report Monday what they raised through June 30. Those limits don’t apply to Bush because he doesn’t yet hold elected office.
Davis says she’s focused on re-election in her Fort Worth district next year, but Democratic operatives have urged her to run for governor — especially since Gov. Rick Perry announced last week he won’t seek a fourth full term in 2014.
On the last day of a special legislative session convened by Perry, Davis and a group of protesters helped delay a vote on abortion restrictions until past a midnight deadline. The governor called lawmakers back to work, however, and the Legislature on Friday approved the measure banning abortions after 20 weeks and imposing other restrictions.
Also Monday, Bush spokesman Trey Newton told The Associated Press that the campaign has $2.6 million in cash on-hand. Such a large war chest is unprecedented for land commissioner, especially since no Democrat has yet emerged to challenge Bush for the office.
“I’m very excited,” Newton said.
The grandson of one former president and nephew of another, Bush raked in $1.3-plus million in his first eight weeks of campaigning last year. But that total included large donations from his father, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and his uncle, ex-President George W. Bush.
Newton said Bush’s latest haul included no major family donations. Bush did, though, hold two Texas fundraisers in May with his uncle and his grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush — and those accounted for his largest spikes in contributions.
Bush, 37, announced he was running for land commissioner in March, ending speculation he could have his eye on a better-known post like state attorney general or even governor. He says it’s the post that best suits his skill set.
Born in Houston, Bush grew up in Florida where his father was governor from 1998 until 2007. He graduated from and played baseball for Rice University in his birth city before teaching school in inner-city Miami and working on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.
Bush earned a law degree from the University of Texas and clerked for a federal judge, then later founded a capital company in Fort Worth. In 2010, he served an eight-month tour in Afghanistan with U.S. Naval Intelligence.
His candidacy has been cheered by Republicans throughout Texas who see him as a way to improve the party’s standing among Hispanic voters. Bush is a Spanish-speaker whose mother was born in Mexico.
A Democrat has not won statewide office since 1994, but Hispanics tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic and accounted for two-thirds of Texas’ population growth over the last decade.
Current Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is running for lieutenant governor in 2014, creating a vacancy in his office, which oversees oil and mineral rights that help fund public school statewide and also administers benefits to military veterans.
Patterson said Monday that he had raised $417,000 between June 17 and 30 and now has $1.3 million in cash on-hand in a Republican lieutenant governor’s primary contest that also includes Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples and state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston. Current Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also says he plans to seek re-election.
In a separate statement, Patrick said he’d raised $100,000 between announcing his lieutenant governor candidacy on June 27 and the June 30 deadline. He said he now has $2.1 million in cash on-hand.
Patterson likened a race featuring so many big names to a sweeping Hollywood production. “I half expect to see Charlton Heston,” he said.
“It’s a cast of thousands. But they’re all credible,” Patterson added. “They’re all friends of mine.”