No Trick or Treaters

The following is the oldest story of the 2023 H-Town elections. We have been talking about State Sen. John Whitmire’s campaign cash since the very beginning. The Whitmire campaign didn’t get into this race, not knowing if we could spend the campaign money. Have at it from the Chron:

State Sen. John Whitmire’s campaign war chest is now more than 30 times the size of any of his competitors’ in the Houston mayoral race, as he continues to flex his financial strength as the Nov. 7 election nears.

This week, Whitmire reported dishing out another $3.3 million in the last month, dominating the airways with $2.7 million worth of advertising. He now has spent more than $9 million over the campaign, twice as much as any other candidate. His campaign said he has $4.3 million on hand as election day approaches next week. 

Those numbers dwarf his competitors. His main rival, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, spent $1.1 million over the last month but has just $108,000 left over – equal to about 2.5% of Whitmire’s tranche. Former Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia spent $1.9 million over the last month and has $73,000 left in the bank. And attorney Lee Kaplan spent just under $1 million and has $124,000 on hand.

The overall financial picture shows no candidate has the resources to match Whitmire’s might in the home stretch of the campaign. While the city’s contribution caps reset for a runoff – making additional fundraising easier – any potential Whitmire opponent would face an uphill battle trying to compete with his stockpile.

The senator’s competitors have teased a legal fight to question his spending. Jackson Lee and Garcia have asked the city attorney to review Whitmire’s campaign finances, arguing he has an unfair fundraising edge after decades in the Legislature. Whimire has said he conferred with the city attorney before transferring over his legislative war chest, and the city has not responded to their requests.

The city adopted an ordinance in 2005 that sought to limit how much outside campaign money a legislator can use for city races – essentially treating a legislative account like any political committee that would donate to a city candidate, subject to a $10,000 cap. City attorneys, though, have interpreted it more loosely in the years since.

Mayor Sylvester Turner used $900,000 from his Texas House account during his successful 2015 run, a move that was cleared by then-City Attorney David Feldman. He said he interpreted the 2005 ordinance to mean candidates can transfer over the max donation from each donor – $5,000 for an individual, $10,000 for a political group – rather than being limited to one $10,000 transfer.

City Attorney Arturo Michel, who held the same role when the ordinance was passed in 2005, told the Chronicle earlier this year that he had the same interpretation.

Whitmire began his mayoral campaign with about $9 million in legislative funds he transferred over from his Senate account. Jackson Lee and Garcia have argued in letters to Michel that Whitmire should still be limited by parts of that statute, even if the definition is more loosely interpreted.

They said he should only be able to transfer donations from this election cycle, which began in January 2022, and that he should not be allowed to use money he gets from stock returns and interest. Under those parameters, Whitmire would have been limited to $1.6 million from his Senate account, they claim. Michel has not responded to their concerns, and no candidate has filed a lawsuit to try to block Whitmire’s spending.

“For the city attorney not to opine is a terrible disservice to the electorate and to the candidates, because it puts the candidates at a significant disadvantage, and I think it sets a terrible precedent for the future” Garcia said. “They owe it to the citizens to respond, rather than letting the clock run out.”

Here is the entire read: Whitmire’s spending in Houston mayor race more than double opponents’ (

Quit the crying. You all knew what Sen. Whitmire had in the bank.


Commentary has a lot of Halloween candy left over. See the featured photo. I only had three trick or treater groups hit my door last night. What is up with that? Sad.


My Beatles wall calendar for November has the four in dark suits and dark ties in a black and white photo from 1964.

Today is the first day of November. Go vote early.

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