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Victoria County campaign finance reports show cost-per-vote ratio

By Melissa Crowe
Dec. 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Updated Dec. 2, 2012 at 6:02 a.m.

Danny Garcia

Running for office in Victoria County comes with its price tag.

In the three contested races Nov. 6, those six candidates raised $67,239, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed at the elections office.

From the first receipts in Danny Garcia's campaign for Precinct 1 Commissioner, Garcia spent an average of $5.80 per vote in the general election.

"Anytime you talk campaigns, you're talking money," said Garcia, who won the seat with 3,451 votes.

He started his campaign with personal money and eventually raised enough to accomplish his goals, he said.

When primary elections lead to runoff elections, the road to office quickly becomes expensive.

Garcia came in as the biggest spender, totaling $20,037, according to his most recent report, filed Oct. 29. He was also the biggest fundraiser, collecting $13,283 in contributions during his campaign.

He reported a remaining account balance of $2,486, and said he plans to leave that account open.

"I've got to get through these four years and show the people that they made the right decision," Garcia said. "It'll be a good start for next time."

Victoria County Elections Administrator George Matthews said most candidates start the campaign season on their own dime.

"They just run their campaigns on a shoestring," Matthews said. "A lot of candidates don't raise enough to run a good campaign."

However, those who have funds left over, such as Garcia, can only spend those dollars on "legitimate campaign expenses."

The funds can be used to run for another office, can be given to a political party or even to another candidate. After that, it goes to the state treasury, Matthews said.

Office holders can also use the remaining balance for legitimate business expenses - things "the public office might not pay for but you feel are valuable," Matthews said.

The biggest contributor to those three races was the Victoria Board of Realtors, which pitched in $2,000 to the Gary Burns' Precinct 3 Commissioner campaign.

Tony Mallette, who ran against Garcia in the Precinct 1 election, spent $2.40 per vote, according to his most recent finance report, which was filed Sept. 27.

But spending more per vote does not guarantee a victory.

Rey Herrera, who ran for Precinct 3 commissioner, spent $7.12 for each of his 1,881 votes, according to his reports. Herrera lost to Burns, the incumbent, who spent $2.60 on each of his 3,639 votes, according to Burns' report filed Oct. 9.

The final reports are due in January.

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