Incumbent Texas House District 54 Rep. Scott Cosper, R-Killeen, has a big lead in campaign fundraising over his Republican opponents — Brad Buckley and Larry Smith — according to semiannual finance reports released this week by the Texas Ethics Commission.
Cosper reported $98,909.89 in contributions in the second six months of 2017 with a reported $67,003.40 in cash on hand.
Cosper is a former mayor of Killeen in his first term at the Capitol and defeated Democrat Sandra Blankenship in the November 2016 election for the seat. The 2018 primary election is March 6.
The single largest contribution to the Cosper campaign was from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which donated $10,000 in November.
A group of area leaders also contributed to the campaign, including Craig Carlson, of the Carlson Law Firm, who donated $2,500; Allen Cloud, owner of Cloud Real Estate and former Killeen mayor, who donated $2,500; former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin, who donated $2,500; former Killeen Mayor Tim Hancock, who donated $500; Michael Linnemann, of Linnemann Realty, who donated $2,500; former Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison, who donated $500; Harker Heights City Councilman John Reider, who donated $2,500; former Killeen City Councilman Kenny Wells, who donated $2,500; and Killeen developer Bruce Whitis, who donated $2,500.
Cosper reported $71,913.52 in expenditures during the reporting period, including approximately $55,000 in two payments to Patterson & Company for consulting, advertising and mailers.
The Republican campaign for Brad Buckley, a Killeen veterinarian, gathered $22,910 in contributions during the filing period with a reported $2,444.65 in cash on hand.
The largest single contribution came from Bill and Mary Kliewer, of Killeen, for $2,500. Bill Kliewer is the chairman of the BKCW insurance firm and co-chair with Buckley on 14 Forward, a private sector campaign to grow the area’s economy along the Interstate 14/U.S. Highway 190 corridor.
Ashley Ledger, of Harker Heights, also donated $2,500 to the campaign in two separate payments in November and December. Dr. Austin Ruiz, who lost a runoff election against Cosper in May 2016, donated $1,000 to Buckley’s campaign. Jim Schwertner, a former Texas A&M University System regent, alongside his wife, Patti, contributed $500 to the campaign, and Karen Walinder, owner of Mickey’s Convenience Stores, donated $500.
The only political action committee contribution to Buckley’s campaign was from the Veterinary PAC, which donated $1,000.
Buckley loaned his campaign a total of $10,300 in two payments in October.
The campaign has spent a total of $30,765.35 so far, including nearly $30,000 for consulting from Iurrodian Enterprises LLC in Killeen.
Larry Smith, a contractor and U.S. Army veteran, reported $45,300 in contributions with a whopping $40,000 from Harold “Hal" Butchart, a former candidate for Killeen mayor.
Smith also reported a $5,000 contribution from Roberty Kerley, a Killeen retiree.
Smith recorded $19,890 in expenditures, including $5,000 in stamping and mailing fees.
Smith last ran for the District 54 seat in March 2016, when he failed to reach a runoff with Cosper and Ruiz.
The sole Democrat in the race, Kathy Richerson, reported no contributions in her semiannual report. Richerson loaned her campaign $1,150 and spent $750 on dues for the Texas Democratic Party.
The next campaign finance reports are due Feb. 5 — 30 days before the primary elections.
Incumbent District 59 Rep. J.D. Sheffield, R-Gatesville, far outpaced his GOP primary competitor in fundraising in the second half of 2017 with $106,629.10 in contributions and a reported $69,261.21 in cash on hand.
Sheffield’s single largest contribution was from the Texas Health Care Association PAC, which donated $10,000 to the campaign.
Other notable contributors include the Texas for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which donated $7,500 in three separate payments, and the Texas Association of Realtors PAC, which donated $5,000.
Republican challenger Chris Evans reported just $3,835 in contributions in the second half of 2017 with a reported $21,369.73 in cash on hand.
Evans’ single largest contribution was from Julie McCarty, of Grapevine, who donated $500.
Evans reported $27,678.12 in expenditures, including approximately $7,000 for consulting expenses.