Republican Marc LaHood more than doubled Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales’s fundraising haul in the first half of 2022, bringing in roughly $193,000 to the incumbent’s $93,000, according to campaign finance reports filed this month. But Gonzales is still sitting pretty with roughly six times his opponent’s cash on hand, the reports show.
Gonzales was elected in 2018 with the help of a political action committee that spent millions electing district attorneys across the country who support criminal justice reform, including cite-and-release programs that keep people suspected of low-level misdemeanors from being arrested.
Attention for that approach has helped the Democrat build a national donor base of low-dollar donations that contributed heavily to a campaign war chest that now sits at $320,000, according to a semiannual campaign finance report filed July 15.
Though Gonzales’s report was 147 pages long, his largest donations were $5,000, and many were under $10 from people across the country. He was unopposed in the March primary.
“I’m proud to be leading the race in [number of] campaign contributions by a wide margin thanks to local supporters who believe in keeping our community safe,” Gonzales said in a statement Tuesday.
His opponent Marc LaHood, the brother of former District Attorney Nico LaHood, who Gonzales defeated in the Democratic primary in 2018, launched his campaign in December.
He won the Republican nomination in March with 63% of the vote, and reported $49,000 on hand for the race in November. LaHood loaned his own campaign roughly $60,000 since joining the race in December.
“He already proved he can raise money, and there’ll be a lot more interest now than there was before because the dynamic is just like [what’s happening] in other other cities around the country,” said Craig Murphy, an Austin-based Republican consultant who is working on LaHood’s campaign.
With crime on the rise, voters in Los Angeles are seeking to recall a progressive District Attorney who instituted similar reforms for non-violent offenders. Last month San Francisco residents recalled progressive District Attorney Chesa Boudin with the help of some big GOP donors.
But LaHood must now convince supporters he has a chance against a well-funded incumbent in blue territory.
He’s paid Murphy Nasica more than $135,000 for polling, advertising and consulting this year, and spent almost $230,000 since launching his campaign in December, according to campaign finance reports covering the first half of 2022.
LaHood’s semiannual recent report only covers his fundraising from eight days before the March primary. His largest contribution, $25,000, came from San Antonio businessman Jack Guenther Sr., who helped found the Briscoe Western Art Museum. He also received $2,500 from the Deputy Sheriff’s Association of Bexar County, which endorsed him over Gonzales.
Because Gonzales was unopposed in the Democratic primary, his most recent report covers the entire first half of 2022. He’s spent just $27,000 so far this year, including payments to a national Democratic fundraising company, Act Blue.
In the first half of the year, Gonzales paid his campaign consulting firm, San Antonio-based VIVA Politics, roughly $11,000. His campaign also made a $1,000 donation to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke.