Ralph Hall foe sees donor interest surge
From: Politico By JOSE DELREAL | 3/5/14 4:31 PM EST Updated: 3/5/14 4:58 PM EST
The Republican challenger who managed to drag longtime GOP Rep. Ralph Hall into a run-off election has grabbed the attention of donors and received an influx of funds and pledges for the upcoming vote.
John Ratcliffe said Wednesday that he plans to capitalize on the momentum from the previous day’s primary vote, which saw the 90-year-old Hall — the oldest member of the House in history — fail to crack the 50 percent barrier needed to avoid a runoff. The result was a huge upset for a popular conservative stalwart who is seeking his 18th term.
“From the beginning of the campaign we felt that we could out-raise and outspend any other candidate. I expect that to continue,” said Ratcliffe, a wealthy former U.S. attorney who, thanks largely to self-funding, already had the cash advantage in the race. “Our ability to fundraise has been enhanced by yesterday’s results, and I’ll continue to contribute to my campaign as well.”
Hall, meanwhile, promised a fight until the end.
“I know what hard work is,” he told POLITICO. “I grew up working hard. A lot of people have hobbies — they go fishing or they golf. My hobby is campaigning. I’m going to beat him, because I’m going to outwork him.”
Hall received 45 percent of the vote Tuesday, while Ratcliffe pulled in 29 percent to come in second. The runoff is set for May 27. There are no Democratic challengers in the race in the deep red state, meaning the winner of the runoff is effectively headed to Congress.
Ratcliffe, a first-time congressional candidate, was able to build a sizable war chest from a combination of individual donations and personal loans to his campaign. Unlike many other GOP primary challengers, the 48-year-old did not run under the tea party banner. His central argument was that Hall had been in Washington too long, and that Texans in the 4th District deserved a representative with fresh ideas.
Ratcliffe acknowledged that some outside groups have expressed interest in contributing to his campaign but declined to disclose which ones. His team said he’d received “tens of thousands” of dollars in pledges and donations as of Wednesday afternoon.
FEC filings showed that Hall raised nearly $400,000 and Ratcliffe raised more than $600,000 for the primary cycle. While Hall benefited from large PAC donations, Ratcliffe personally loaned his campaign nearly half a million dollars.
Throughout the campaign, Hall faced criticism for not appearing more regularly in the district, which he has said was due to his responsibilities in Washington. Ratcliffe said he and his team will push for more side-by-side events ahead of the runoff, which they say Hall intentionally avoided in the last round.
“We want as many side-by-side comparisons as we can get,” Ratcliffe campaign manager Daniel Kroese said.
Hall aides said they remained confident that Hall’s conservative record and history of service will continue appealing to voters.
“Money doesn’t always win campaigns. Ralph has the name recognition, as well as the support of most Republican office-holders in the district. I think that speaks volumes,” Hall adviser Ed Valentine said. He also noted: “We were outspent this cycle. But we only have one opponent this time instead of five.”
Ratcliffe’s campaign will now focus on consolidating the anti-incumbent vote in the district to win the runoff, the GOP nomination and, in effect, the House seat.
“It really felt like a win, what we were able to accomplish. Everyone was excited last night. But we have a lot of work to do before the run-off,” Ratcliffe said.