By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
Texas House District 55 Democratic candidate Sam Murphey has more than double the amount of campaign cash than his rival, Republican Ralph Sheffield.
The campaign finance reports for the two candidates came out this week, and the numbers show Murphey with more than a 2-to-1 edge in cash on hand. He had $117,280 as of Monday's deadline, while Sheffield had $51,222.
The two spent about the same in the most recent reporting period, with Sheffield spending just over $60,000 to Murphey's $55,000. But Murphey pulled in about $24,000 more during the period than Sheffield, $104,852 to $80,689.
However, Sheffield's high-profile fundraiser with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison came after the deadline, so money from that event was not included.
More than 65 percent of Murphey's funds have come from outside the district, while Sheffield has pulled about 51 percent from inside the district.
Sheffield's campaign says that Murphey's support has come largely from Austin-based special interest groups, more than half of whom are trial lawyers.
Murphey said Wednesday that the increased revenue is a reflection of people trusting his ability.
Murphey has challenged Sheffield on several occasions about the source of his funding, specifically $27,000 from a well-known supporter of school vouchers out of Houston.
"The school voucher thing is troubling to me," Murphey said. "I'm proud of the fact that I've gotten the teachers unions to support me. Ralph called me out and talked about the unions. ? But I want their support. Those people are in the trenches, and I've got the inside track on (what needs to be done)."
Sheffield's campaign said it's not necessarily about money in this district.
"We don't think this has been a race about cash on hand," said Ted Delisi, Sheffield's political consultant.
Delisi said that many of Murphey's funds are coming from special interest groups, and that people should think carefully before voting for a candidate who is supported by liberal special interest groups, particularly one called Blue Texas.
Murphey said Wednesday he is "proud to be associated" with Blue Texas. He said it's a group that has evaluated the races throughout Texas and has chosen to support him. He said the group wants to improve children's health care, decrease pollution and fight high insurance rates.
Sheffield's campaign said Blue Texas has close ties to Fred Baron, a Dallas trial lawyer who helped relocate the mistress of former presidential candidate John Edwards.
"It's true that Sam Murphey has become the darling of the liberal Austin elite," Delisi said. "I don't think it's going to sell in Bell County regardless of how big his checkbook is."
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568.