Political spending, contributions scrutinized
Aug. 13, 2010 at 3:13 a.m.
Updated Aug. 14, 2010 at 3:14 a.m.
The latest campaign reports indicate incumbent Don Pozzi outspent challenger Matt Ocker nearly 4-to-1 in the race for Victoria County judge in November.
But Pozzi, a Democrat, said the numbers are deceiving because of the rules candidates must follow in filling out the reports.
Ocker, the Republican, said he's not sure what effect spending will have in the race.
Pozzi's report shows he spent $36,449 from Feb. 21 through June 30, while Ocker spent $9,403 from Jan. 1 through June 30.
Pozzi said nearly $26,660 of his spending total was to Austin-based Maverick Communications for advertising for his previous campaign. He said it has nothing to do with his campaign this year.
"I had that money sitting in the campaign account the whole time," he said. "But it wasn't spent until, obviously, I spent it."
Pozzi's report also showed he had $8,450 in contributions for the reporting period.
It also showed he had $29,372 in his war chest at the end of the reporting period. That includes money he carried over from previous campaigns.
The largest contributions include $5,000 from Jim Weet, $1,000 from Robert J. Hewitt Jr. and $500 from Dennis O'Connor Hewitt, all of Victoria, and $500 from Jim LoMastor, of Dallas.
Ocker's report showed he had contributions of $3,025 and no contributions maintained at the end of the reporting period.
The only contributions listed in Ocker's report are $500 from Mark Moore and $100 from Morgan Dunn O'Connor, all of Victoria. He also listed an $8,000 loan to his campaign from himself.
Pozzi said he spent about $90,000 in his last general election campaign, but he doesn't yet have an estimate of how much he'll spend this time.
"Right now in my campaign account, I've got close to $29,000," he said. "If I had to guess, I would probably need another $50,000."
He said the cost of advertising on radio, television and in the newspaper adds up.
Ocker said while he's not sure how the race will be influenced by finances, he's hopeful voters will take time to find out how candidates stand on the issues.
He said that's why he'd like to see more interaction between the candidates, and between the candidates and the public.
"One of the things money does bring to the table is it gives you that exposure," Ocker said. "I want to think the voters will actually make an attempt to find out what the candidates stand for."
Reports in the race for criminal district attorney show Democratic challenger Deborah F. Branch spent $13,763 between Feb. 1 and June 30.
The Republican, incumbent Stephen B. Tyler, spent only $2,077 between Jan. 15 and July 15.
Branch said all of her spending was for the primary, because she had an opponent.
Branch's report showed she had no contributions left on the last day of the reporting period, while Tyler's report showed he had $2,784.
Tyler shows receiving $2,525 in contributions and making a loan to his campaign for $100,000.
Tyler's biggest contributions include $1,000 from ABC Bonding, of Victoria, $800 for an ad purchased by Friends of Steve Tyler and $500 from Munir Munawar and Richard Cisneros each, both of Victoria.
Branch's report showed $7,637 in contributions for the period. Her largest contributions included $1,000 from W.E. White, of Victoria, $1,250 from Kenneth Blackwood Jr., of Victoria, $500 from James McHaney, of Victoria, and $838 from Victoria resident Kay Walker.
Branch said how much more she spends will depend on how many donations she can raise.
"I will spend until I know we have done everything we can to get the message out to the people in this community," she said. "I've got to get the word out so they can make a decision as to who is going to meet the needs of Victoria over the next four years and who is going to best meet those needs."
Tyler said in the last campaign he financed his race and then used contributions to pay himself back. He said he was only able to raise enough to pay back about half of what he was out of pocket.
He said this time he hopes he'll raise just enough to run a good race and then a little more.
"If you're going to run, you're going to have to run hard," Tyler said. "I would liken it to the arms race."