EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – In 18 days, Democrats Art Fierro and Claudia Ordaz Perez raised over $110,000 political contributions to their campaigns for the Texas House District 79 seat.

The two Democrats reported their campaign finances on Feb. 22 as part of required filings with the Texas Ethics Commission. The reporting period lasted between the beginning of the month and Feb. 19.

The two are the Democratic candidates for the primary on March 1, and the last day of early voting is Friday As there is no Republican challenger, the race for the District 79 race will come to an end, as Fierro and Ordaz Perez are the only candidates in the contest.

Earlier this year, the Texas Eighth Court of Appeals ruled Ordaz Perez could run for the seat after Fierro submitted a claim she did not move into the district in time to satisfy residency requirements.

Fierro outraised Ordaz Perez with nearly $95,000 in monetary and non-monetary political contributions, according to his report. Fierro recorded $70,652 in monetary contributions.

Ordaz Perez reported raising nearly $17,500 in monetary contributions during the reporting period.

Combined, the two brought in a total of $112,000.

In expenses, Ordaz Perez outpaced Fierro with donations left over from the previous reporting period. Ordaz Perez spent just over $45,000 for canvassing, political ads and web services. She still has nearly $22,500 left, according to her report.

Fierro spent $15,685, mostly on consulting and office space, according to his report. He has nearly $61,300 left in his campaign balance, according to his report.

Fierro and Ordaz Perez criticize each other over donors

Fierro’s latest mailer to voters criticized Ordaz Perez’s past contributions from Republican donors.

During her initial election to the Texas House, Ordaz Perez accepted two $10,000 contributions from Paul Foster and Woody Hunt. The two are a sample of the largest Republican donors in the state.

Campaign finance reports for Ordaz Perez do not show she received money from Foster in this campaign. She did receive a donation of $7,500 from Hunt, earlier this year. Former state house representative and former mayor Dee Margo gave her a $1,000 donation.

Additionally, Ordaz Perez’s 30-day and 8-day report do not show large contributions from large Republican PAC’s in the current election.

“Claudia has taken thousands of dollars from Republican donors who are out of touch with our El Paso values,” Fierro’s mailer stated.

Fierro mailer to District 79 constituents. / Courtesy of the Claudia Ordaz Perez campaign.

But Ordaz Perez pushed back against Fierro’s claims, citing his recent campaign finance report.

Specifically, Ordaz Perez criticized Fierro for accepting two $10,000 contributions from the Republican Texas Leads PAC and Carriage House Partners.

In 2019, Dennis Bonnen launched a political action committee to ensure the Republican party kept control of the Texas House in 2020 races.

Shortly after announcing the PAC, Bonnen retired from the Texas House giving up his Speaker title after a recording of him was released that appeared to disparage Democrats and supported allegations he intended on politically targeting members of his own party. Carriage House Partners is another entity with ties to Bonnen.

Ordaz Perez called on Fierro to publicly acknowledge the contributions from the two PACs.

“Art Fierro’s mailer is a shameful act of deception by a desperate politician who knows the only way he can win at this point is through vicious negative attacks,” Ordaz Perez stated. “The fact Art reported accepting $20,000 from Republican groups on the exact same day he sent this attack piece to voters shows the kind of man he truly is and why he is wrong for El Paso.”

Notable contributions and expenses

Ordaz Perez’s notable donations came from the following:

Jackson Walker PAC $1,000; Texas AFL-CIO State Cope Fund $500; Texas Apartment Association $1,000; Texas State Farm Agents PAC $2,500; Texas Trucking Association PAC $2,000.

The following were significant expenses:

El Paso Mail & Print Service $7,923; Chris Hernandez $2,500; Jasmine Crockett Campaign $1,000; STRDM Web Services $2,375; Mark Smith $3,000.

Fierro’s notable donations came from the following:

Republican Texas leads PAC $10,000; Carriage House Partners $10,000; AT&T Texas PAC $2,500; Anthem PAC $2,500; AssociaPAC Washington D.C $1,000.; El Paso Association of Fire Fighters Local 51 $2,500; Hillco PAC $1,000; Texas Medical Association’s bipartisan political arm $4,000; Lisa Peisen a board member of the Stars Scholarship Fund $4,800; Texas Association of Realtors PAC $2,500; Texas Automobile Dealers Association PAC $3,000; Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC $10,000; Texas State Teachers Association PAC $1,000; The Chickasaw Nation $5,000.

Non-monetary: American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees $4,900; Joe Moody $4,500; Texas Trial Lawyers Assoc. PAC $7,674; Texas Trial Lawyers Association PAC $6,810.

Notable expenses were to Gables Republic Square $2,460; Campaign Services LLC in Austin $7,306; Sun Circle Strategic Group $930.

District 79 race

In November, Ordaz Perez announced she would challenge Fierro for his seat after changing her voting address to a residence on the East Side.

Governor Greg Abbott approved new political maps created during redistricting in the state. Redistricting is a reference to the process where political districts are drawn based on population and are done every 10 years after the U.S. Census Bureau conducts its survey of the population in the United States.

Ordaz Perez’s House District 76, was removed from El Paso putting her home in District 77, now represented by Lina Ortega.

Ordaz Perez said she would not run against Ortega. And, said the two were being punished by Texas House Republicans were punishing them for breaking quorum during a special session held by the legislature.

Texas Democrats had gone to Washington D.C. to call for federal protections against new voter suppression laws being passed in the state. In August, Fierro, Joe Moody and Mary Gonzalez returned to Texas with 90 other Democrats leaving Ordaz Perez, Lina Ortega in D.C. with the rest of House Democrats.

In October, Ordaz Perez changed her voting address in the Lower Valley to one on the East Side, which signaled an intention to run for a district outside of where she was living.

Fierro has the support of fellow El Paso state representatives Joe Moody and Mary Gonzalez. Ordaz Perez has the support of another fellow El Paso state representative Lina Ortega.

State Senator Cesar Blanco has not endorsed either candidate.

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