Campaign finance reports are interesting reading. No, really. Try it some day and you'll see what I mean. And comparing campaign finance reports to campaign finance report press releases is even more interesting because it reveals the numbers behind the numbers. And in the race to replace Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the numbers behind the numbers are crucial to understanding the race at this early stage. Which is why campaigns hope you read their campaign finance report press releases and not their campaign finance reports. Because if you did….
Let's see. If you did, you would know that the Ted Cruz campaign claimed victory in the second quarter funding race but in reality, they tied with the Tom Leppert campaign. And you would also know that a lot of the cash that the Cruz campaign has on hand cannot be used in the primary. I pointed this out after the first quarter reporting period but no one seemed to care because the campaigns weren't in "attack" mode.
I think we can safely say that the Tom Leppert campaign has moved to the next phase of their campaign and is now ready to point out the contrasts between their campaign and their opponents, in this case the Cruz campaign. I still think that is where the race is going to be, although I might have overestimated the importance of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst jumping in after watching his terrible campaign rollout last week, even if he can bankroll his own campaign. Money apparently cannot buy competence. It might be that instead of fighting for a runoff spot with Mr. Dewhurst, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Leppert might be fighting to be in a runoff against each other. Or trying to get to, as political consultant Allen Blakemore says, fifty point one and take it without a runoff. Either way, this press release from the Leppert campaign is why I think they have gotten the message:
See what I mean? Rather than a 2 to 1 lead in cash on hand, the Leppert campaign has a 3 to 1 lead. Now, if you are like me and like to check things out for yourself, do as I did and review the reports yourself. Click here to view Ted Cruz's second quarter report and here to view Tom Leppert's. My eyes are still crossed but as best as I can tell, the press release is accurate. I did email the Cruz campaign for comment but have not received a reply as yet.
When you get right down to it, Mr. Leppert has out raised Mr. Cruz for this primary by over a half million dollars, $1,639,056 to $1,127,954 and leads in Cash on Hand by $3.2m to $1.0m. You wouldn't know that if you depended on campaign finance report press releases or professional political pundits, would you? I'm going to go ahead and break it down further (oh my eyes) but I'm guessing that Mr. Leppert will remain the leader in contributions from Texas while Mr. Cruz will have the lead from national donors. And Mr. Cruz certainly leads in endorsements, having garnered another national name just yesterday, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Question is, will those endorsements translate to contributions? We haven't seen that happen yet in this race: if we had, Mr. Cruz would be sitting comfortably. And given Mr. Leppert's willingness to invest personally in the race, Mr. Cruz is anything but comfortable on the financial side and has recently brought in Harris Media to help with fundraising and social media.
Chances are that by posting this, I'm going to once again be painted as "in the pocket of" Tom Leppert because I wrote a balanced piece about him the other day. As any long time reader knows, I do not favor candiates in a primary except in very rare local situations and certainly not in a statewide race, so if anyone tells you that, you can dismiss it without further thought. My goal is to give readers information and this is good information to have if you want to understand the race. And I promise you that all those political professionals that dismissed Mr. Leppert without thought are rethinking the race today.