Politics

Alexandra Mealer quadruples Lina Hidalgo in fundraising during final month of Harris County judge campaign

More than $3.7 million in campaign contributions were made last month for Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer, whereas incumbent Democrat Lina Hidalgo raised more than $911,000.

Lina Hidalgo Alexandra Mealer
Lucio Vasquez / Houston Public Media| Alexandra del Moral Mealer's website
Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer raised more than $3.7 million in campaign donations last month – more than four times as much as incumbent Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo – as she tries to win the most prominent and hotly contested local race in this month's midterm election.

According to campaign finance reports filed this week with the Harris County Elections Administration's Office, Mealer's campaign spent about $4.7 million between Sept. 30 and Oct. 29 and had more than $405,000 in cash on hand at the end of the final reporting period for the Nov. 8 election. Hidalgo's campaign, after raising more than $911,000 and spending nearly $2.2 million during the same span, had nearly $565,000 remaining.

The University of Houston's Hobby School of Public Affairs announced last week that a survey of likely Harris County voters showed 47 percent supported Mealer, 45 percent favored the Democrat Hidalgo and 8 percent were undecided. The Harris County judge is the county's chief executive and leads the five-member Harris County Commissioners Court, on which Democrats are trying to maintain their 3-2 majority.

A statement released by Hidalgo's campaign characterized the surge of financial support for Mealer as having come from "Texas' most extreme, far-right stakeholders."

"It's hard to imagine that wealthy donors who want Harris County to return to good ol' boy politics for their corporate interests can relate to Harris County residents who want to keep moving forward," Toni Harrison, a spokesperson for Hidalgo's campaign, said in the statement. "The Texas GOP feels the heat of Judge Hidalgo's ability to make positive changes in our county."

A spokesperson for Mealer's campaign did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Mealer received 44 donations of at least $25,000 apiece last month – not counting in-kind contributions such as covering the cost of a political advertisement or event. Among those who donated were the campaigns of Harris County Commissioner Tom Ramsey, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw and State Sens. Paul Bettencourt and Lois Kolkhorst, along with former U.S. President George W. Bush and the Republican Party of Texas.

Six different donors poured at least $100,000 each into Mealer's campaign last month. Gallery Furniture owner Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale made five donations totaling $448,000, while Vega Energy Partners CEO David Modesett made five monetary contributions totaling $275,000. The biggest single donation was $200,000 from Steven Webster, a private equity executive, while Silver Eagle Beverages CEO John Nau made two donations totaling $125,000.

The biggest contribution to Hidalgo's campaign last month was $50,000 from the Jane Fonda Climate PAC. Six other donors contributed at least $20,000 apiece, including the Boot Texas Republicans PAC and David Edward Gochman, the CEO of Academy Sports & Outdoors.

Hidalgo also received donations from fellow Democratic elected officials such as State Reps. Ron Reynolds and Senfronia Thompson, along with contributions from the campaigns of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Harris County Attorney Christian Menefee and U.S. Rep. Al Green.

Hidalgo's latest campaign finance report shows that in many cases, she received a series of relatively small contributions from the same donors. She had more than 2,400 individual donors, according to her campaign.

Early voting ends Friday and election day is on Tuesday.

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