Republicans are (somewhat) secretly funding Democratic campaigns in Texas

by | Feb 27, 2020 | 2020 Elections, Politics

In major Texas cities that are solid Democratic strongholds, Republicans may be relegated to the fringes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a horse in the race.

That’s especially true in the race for Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner, one of the county’s top decision-making elected offices that oversees the county budget. Republicans don’t have anyone on the ballot in this race. Instead, their dollars have poured into the campaign of Maria Jackson, a former state district criminal court judge running on the Democratic ticket to replace Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

Campaign finance reports show that Republican Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle– one of last two remaining Republicans on Commissioners Court– donated $175,000 to a PAC that paid for $132,000 in ads on Jackson’s behalf.

Cagle donated the money through his campaign committee, which finance reports show has been generously funded by local consulting engineering companies. 

A similar story can be seen in El Paso in the race for House District 76, where two Democratic candidates are vying to replace state Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) who is now running for a spot in the Texas Senate.

Real estate developer Woody Hunt and billionaire oil refiner Paul Foster– some of the best known GOP donors and bundlers in Texas– have donated $10,000 each to elect Democrat Claudia Ordaz Perez, one of the two candidates in the race.

“Democrats all over Texas should be paying very close attention to this race. If we expect to have a true Democratic majority in the Texas House, we cannot afford to have a State Representative from El Paso with a record of selling out progressives to her wealthy Republican donors,” Elisa Tamayo, Perez’ opponent, told the Signal.

As Texas’ major cities become more and more solidly blue, rather than trying to win local races outright, Republican donors are instead trying to pick their preferred Democrats. 

Photo: aluxum/Getty Images | + posts

Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at

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