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The Money Game DEMS KEEP THE CASH RACE CLOSE The economy might suck, but that hasn’t kept candidates for the Texas House from vacuuming up beaucoup campaign dollars. In May the Observer profiled 15 races \(plus six honorable Texas House. In the first half of 2008, those 42 candidates Democrat and Republican, hailing from El Paso to Vidor, Dallas to Corpus Christicollectively raised a staggering $5,145,603. Overall, Republicans have a small edge. They pulled in about $2.9 million to the Democrats’ $2.2 million. At the end of June, the Republican candidates had slightly more cash in the bank$2.4 million to the Dems’ $2.2 million. On closer inspection, the fundraising figures held some surprisesand good news for Democrats. In House District 96, a plum pickup for the Democrats if they can manage it, Arlington Democrat Chris Turner out-raised his incumbent opponent Republican Bill Zedler $240,000 to $207,000, despite Zedler’s pulling down big bucks from GOP moneybags Louis Baptist preacher and relatively unknown Democratic candi date Joel Redmond must have been busy passing the collection plate in Pasadena. Redmond blindsided opponent Ken Legler, ending June with $87,000 on hand to Legler’s zero, zilch, nada in the campaign coffers. In Corpus Christi, Democratic golden boy Juan Garcia and politician-turned-lobbyist-turned-politician Todd Hunter are both stacking the Benjamins. Garcia added $402,000 to his already-fat war chest between January and July. He has $522,000 on-hand. Hunter, who has the backing of Gov. Perry and other heavyweights, pulled in $301,000, with $165,000 still in the bank. Sitting pretty on the GOP side is Dee Margo, a candidate for a Republican-leaning district in El Paso. Margo called down almost $522,000 from corporate PACs, executives, and Republican stalwarts, including homebuilder Bob Perry, in the first half of 2008. Margo’s young Democratic opponent Joe Moody managed just $87,000. With only three months left before the election, long-shot candidates who failed to raise much money are looking increasingly weak. These include Democrat Emil Reichstadt, an attorney from Highland Park angling to unseat rising star Republican Rep. Dan Branch. Branch out-raised Reichstadt 9-1. Also looking anemic is former Irving City Councilman Bob Romano, who managed only $8,200 to Republican incumbent Linda Harper-Brown’s $111,000. Forrest Wilder AUGUST 8, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7