Republican candidates in the lieutenant governor’s race are spending big on their statewide TV advertising during the first week of early primary voting.
Professor Jim Henson with the University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Politics Project said there is a calculated effort behind which cities they are spending the money in. Henson said how candidates allocate campaign resources among the different geographic urban areas is a big factor behind winning.
"What we’re seeing is people -- I think for the most part -- playing to their strengths," Henson said. "So for example, [state] Sen. [Dan]Patrick [of Houston], who is the clearly-acknowledged conservative’s conservative candidate, has bypassed Austin altogether and concentrated his spending in Dallas and Houston and with a decent but smaller chunk in San Antonio."
Numbers show Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples' campaign has spent big in Dallas, but they are also investing a decent amount in San Antonio.
"There are pockets of conservative voters in San Antonio, giving the preeminence of the military bases and a business community," Henson said.
He said spending money now in San Antonio helps form name recognition during the start of the general election. But Henson said what is really catching people’s attention is the lack of spending by incumbent David Dewhurst, who only spent $270,000 on advertising going into the early voting season.
"That’s not what David Dewhurst has to do right now," Henson said. "I think the general suspicion here, and probably a good one, is that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst is saving his money for a couple of things -- probably one last burst of ads right before election day, but also sitting on money for a probable runoff."
Henson said the likely strategy is that Dewhurst is forcing his competitors to spend a large amount cash early in race. All of the Republican candidates running for lieutenant governor completely avoided buying ad time in the Austin market.