TX-Sen: John Sharp Raised $515,000 in 1st Quarter

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After reporting having over $2.5 million on hand last week, BOR has learned that John Sharp's U.S. Senate campaign raised $515,155 last quarter.

During this same period, Houston Mayor Bill White's campaign raised $1,876,163. White, who filed less than three weeks before Sharp, has raised over $2.6 million total, more than five times the amount Sharp has raised.

Here are the stats for Sharp's fundraising:

$515,155.00 – Total contributions other than loans
$514,955.00 – Net contributions other than loans
$2,001,678.10 – Loans made or guaranteed by the candidate

Now I think we know why the Sharp campaign did not want to disclose these numbers. It is hard to describe them as anything but disappointing.

Sharp's report not only puts him at less then one fifth of White's total, but it also puts him below recent Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate in Texas.

In his first fundraising report in 2007, Rick Noriega reported raising $570,000. Mikal Watts, who never even became an offical candidate, raised $1.1 million in his first quarter in 2007.


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  1. not bad
    fundraising is tough in this environment…especially if you don't currently hold a position that you can leverage.

    glad to see a personal investment. it should be seen as a positive, not a negative.

    there is a “per cycle” cap. just because it is a special (if it is) doesn't mean that caps are thrown out the window.

    i'm happy we have two strong Dems wanting to run for this seat.

    • Colin I usually agree with you
      But this time I'm a little confused.

      In 2007, when Rick Noriega, a state representative not well known outside of Houston, raised about the same amount to take on an incumbent, you called the numbers “pathetic.”

      Link: http://www.burntorangereport.c

      I realize this is an extremely difficult time to raise money, but Sharp is a former statewide office holder who has been touted for his fundraising ability and this is likely to be an open seat.

      How can Noriega's old numbers be “pathetic” and Sharp's numbers be “not bad”?

      • simple
        you are confused because you didn't read my post, you read into my post what you wanted it to say.

        i never said $500k was a good number. i would NEVER say that.

        sharp's number is $2.6 million. i know some folks want to discount that figure as though the money is in confederate scrip or monopoly money. it is real money.

        i specifically singled out the loan because it is the only thing that keeps his number from being bad.

        if sharp filed $500k like noriega did, i would be the first to call it pathetic.

        ad hominem attacks on a post about a different guy, in a different cycle, in a different race, that is 2 years old???????? i am truly surprised to see that…it is not characteristic of how you normally dialogue on here.

        your bias is your's…don't assign me one that i don't have. i'm thrilled that we have 2 strong D's running. i have very good friends on both sides. and, as i have with schieffer, kinky, et al, i would urge everyone (including david mauro) to reserve judgement and save bias until we see who is running for what, what they stand for, how they plan to win against the repubs and what they plan to do after elected.

        i would hope that folks here understand that $500k is different from $2.6m, that sharp and noriega are different guys in different races. that what is true in one election isn't necessarily true in EVERY other election for the rest of time.

        i won't compare noriega and sharp out of respect for noriega. you shouldn't either. anyone former supporters or former staff that want to refight the 08 primary that never happened can do it with someone else.

        sharp hasn't been in a position to even try to raise money since 2002ish. sharp doesn't have an office/position to leverage. sharp has never raised money under a capped system.  therefore, my analysis as “not bad”. not good, but not bad.

        • re:
          That is a good point. Many have discounted the loan but you're right that real money is real money.

          Regardless of the CoH number, these reports are important to show that a candidate has broad enough financial support to sustain a campaign.

          I now understand your distinction between 08 and this particular report. I am reserving judgment as well, but I also want to call it like I see it.

          I still this report was disappointing. That doesn't mean either is a better candidate or (at least at this point) has a better chance to win.

          • “Real Money”
            Clearly, Sharp is trying to signal that he has skin in the game, but it is a loan and not a donation. He has not spent it, so he can reimburse himself at any point.

            He was also trying to signal that he can go toe-to-toe with White and he seemed to have a pretty good idea of how much Bill's report was going to show so that he could make up a difference. I doubt he would have done this if he had known that the GOPers would be so anemic and that even at $500K he would be the second most viable candidate.

            Does anyone recall successful campaigns that have involved this level of personal loans so early in the game? There are small start-up or capacity building loans, and then there are the personal guarantee loans late in the campaign (see Clinton, H.) but this is different.

          • true dat
            The issue of broad-based financial support is real.

            I and others have pointed out in the past that, for Sharp to be successful he will have to adapt to a capped system and revamp his operations.

            With the hangover from November and the state of the economy, I think White's number is more impressive than Sharp's is disappointing.

            The next quarter will def tell the tale. The guy getting in for the stretch run will have LOTS of small dollar stuff as they try to build a database that can produce a volume of small contributions in response to an email.

            This will ultimately represent “automatic money”. While they burn up the phones getting commitments and signing up bundlers, their automatic money keeps the kitty full.

  2. Any unified strategy?
    In light of White's fundraising entirely within the Houston area…

    Has anybody given any thought to the idea that maybe White and Sharp are engaging in a bit coordination?  Here's the scenario: Sharp concedes Houston, White concedes DFW–neither advertise or campaign in the other's home turf.  South Texas is the only area up for grabs, and instead of attacking one another, Sharp and White just encourage people to vote for a Democrat, period.

    In a special election for Hutchison's seat, the intended net result would be that Sharp and White both make the runoff with 18-22% of the vote, taking advantage of the four- to six-way split in the Republican base.  That would guarantee a Democrat heading to the US Senate.  The loser of the runoff would benefit from the increased name ID and fundraising, and could be ideally run for another office–Governor–in 2010 or 2014.  Although I'm too lazy to find the link on Sharp, White has expressed gubernatorial ambitions (see the second-to-last paragraph of the article).

    I'm not sure its legal, but hey–its a sure way to get a Democratic Senator from Texas.

  3. katiebellmoore on

    Hays County Love
    Just an FYI – Bill White has reached out to Hays County whereas we haven't seen John Sharp yet. That being said, hopefully we will have John Sharp show us some love too. I am very happy to have two great Dems taking on this fight.

  4. In reply
    Note that Bill White's fundraising has essentially hit the ceiling. He has raised a grand total of about $53,000 outside of Houston on his first report and $44K outside of Houston on his current report.

    That's basically less than $100,000 from anyone aside from his current mayoral donors, and Houston business interests–many of whom have issues before White as the sitting mayor.

    So, given that White doesn't have much monetary support outside of Houston, he's going to have to put his own cash on the game if he actually intends to close the nearly $1 million usable cash on hand gap he has with Sharp any time soon.

    Maybe the bigger story here is that the numbers show White isn't a viable statewide fundraiser outside of Houston. It reinforces the idea that he is a one-media-market candidate. Even if you look at the poll that is published on the front page today (the DKos Poll), you see that Sharp has higher favorables than Sharp.  

  5. A response
    Here are the numbers (fav/unfav/unknown)

    Sharp: 36-24-40

    White: 33-23-44

    That's hardly anything to boast about — this is clearly a toss-up race when it comes to this latest poll.

    “White's fundraising has hit the ceiling” — that's not fact, that's pure opinion. Who knows how much more he could raise? And Sharp has been a statewide candidate numerous times — yet he could only raise $515k across the entire state? Wouldn't that mean that his ceiling is low, whereas White still has the rest of the state to target?

    Let's not spin ourselves out of sense. I'm not decided on Sharp vs. White, but trying to tell me this news is good news for Sharp is like telling me a drought is great b/c the rain will mean more the next time it happens.

  6. A few thoughts
    * David is right. If this were someone else, Sharp would not get a free pass.

    * Isn't the blog world all about transparency? Isn't burying the numbers and refusing to share the amount of loans old school gamesmanship? What happened to the high tech, open-book Sharpie that took the blog world out for steaks three months ago?

    * A ceiling? Good grief! White has not held ONE SINGLE FUNDRAISER. This is $2.5 million in organization money. His first fundraiser isn't until the end of this month and that one is in Houston according the Quorum Report.

    * Never, ever underestimate Bill White. I remember when he was polling 4% at the beginning of his first Houston Mayor's Race. All my politico friends were saying White had a snowball's chance, and the dude won.

  7. Why D vs. D?
    True, the two Democrats, especially if you count loans but I think (and I'll have to take a look) even if you don't, are the frontrunners in the fundraising race.

    But really, this is most likely going to be a special election where we should focus on batting down the Republicans rather than ourselves.  Quite frankly, both Sharp and White would make good Senators.  Much better than any of the Republican candidates — so much that they should not be attacking themselves.

    I find it slightly disingenuous that Sharp talks carrying other Democrats while simultaneously bashing White in a race where he doesn't NEED to bash White.

  8. Good points
    MH, you are right. The two Dems raised more than all the GOPers combined.

    For the Dems to win this, we need one strong candidate against multiple Republicans.

    One interesting fact about these races is that either Sharp or White could transfer all these federal funds into a state race, but state office holders cannot transfer state campaign funds into a federal race. That leaves an exit strategy for (most likely) Sharp as the national dollars will start targeting the strongest candidate.

    Personally, I used to be a huge Sharp fan.  I think he is smart (for an Aggie) but three things have taken the shine off of him:

    * He has lost two statewide races. It is usually 2 and bar-b-que unless you have 9 lives and multiple parties like Hance or Strayhorn. He had his chances and for some reason, he can't close.

    * He said as recently as three years ago he would never run for anything again. That is why he helped Perry with the tax bill. Oops.

    * I am uncomfortable about his relationship with Perry. He can get indignant about Perry's secession comments, but according to the TM blogs, they still talk all the time. That makes me uncomfortable because it suggests that they are both political animals far more interested in holding office than being public servants. To befriend a dude like Perry that is so machiavellian (sp) does not make me think he is the go-to for the Dems.

  9. yes and no
    your point about transfer of funds is outstanding. very good point.

    sharp and white both have very strong Dem credentials, and BOTH have worked very closely with repubs at various levels. i don't think either should be disqualified for what they do in the interest of the public good.

    i think the point on the 2 losses is valid. sharp will need to reinvent his operations and rethink his strategies. the social network may be an indicator that he knows this.

  10. Your definition…
    …of “outside Houston” is a little odd. I ran the numbers in White's report, and if you use an expanded definition of “outside of Houston” to include Conroe, Bellaire, Kemah, Sugar Land, Kingwood, The Woodlands–all Houston suburbs–then White raised about $360,000 from “outside Houston.” If you use a more traditional regional definition, then White raised less than $45,000 outside of Houston and Washington, D.C.

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