Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez's bid for Texas' Democratic gubernatorial nomination is off to a slow start, but her campaign says she'll get up to speed with the rest of the field as she settles into her role as a candidate.
Andrew White, son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, led the Democratic field in fundraising for the period ending Dec. 31, raising almost $220,000 from more than 200 donors, including a $40,000 personal donation, according to the Texas Tribune. Valdez has only raised about $46,000, according to a report filed to the Texas Ethics Commission. She's received two $5,000 contributions, including one from Dallas lawyer and former state Rep. Domingo Garcia.
In a statement, White credited the diversity of his support for his fundraising lead.
“While I’m happy to raise a substantial sum in such a short amount of time, I’m even more thrilled and humbled by the support from Texas teachers, medical professionals, business leaders, homemakers, veterans and community leaders,” White said. “These supporters believe, like I do, that Texas can do better.”
In response to questions about the money gap from the Observer, Valdez's campaign said the former sheriff got a late start fundraising because she kept her Dallas County post until New Year's Eve.
"Sheriff Valdez was laser-focused on her job as sheriff and ensuring a smooth transition until her last minute in office on Dec. 31. That also happened to be the fundraising deadline," the campaign said. "Our campaign has now officially launched, and we will be ramping up an aggressive fundraising strategy."
Vinny Minchillo, a longtime Texas Republican political consultant who's now the principal at Dallas' Glass House Strategy, wasn't as charitable is his evaluation of Valdez's fundraising.
"$40K is nothing for two months away from a Dallas City Council election, much less a gubernatorial primary," Minchillo said. "I'm not being facetious. ... If you were running for Plano City Council, I might be impressed by that number, but for all the fanfare and, to be honest, quitting a perfectly good job in Dallas County, that's incredibly disappointing."
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Before announcing her campaign, Valdez should have had donors ready to go with checks as soon as she could accept them in order to show strength with her first finance report, Minchillo said.
"Disappointing isn't a strong enough word," he said. "It's just not a real campaign."
While White's fundraising totals are better and should be enough to carry the day in a weak primary field, according to Minchillo, they aren't reflective of a candidate who can mount a statewide campaign for governor — something that most consultants believe costs about $20 million — much less challenge incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who has about $40 million in the bank.
"We've got two of the top 10 television markets in the country and a handful of medium-size markets. You've got to be on television, and you've got to have enough money to knock on the right doors. You've gotta have all the events and do all the data work in a state that's spread out and has millions of people," Minchillo says. "He is two decimal places off from what he needs to run."