If you want to run for public office in Texas, you better be rich or good at fundraising. Or a really great candidate with strong name recognition. Or probably all of those things. "You don't need to be rich, but you have to have a compelling reason why you're the best person for that office," says political consultant Kevin Shuvalov with Houston-based Mammoth Marketing. He tells KTRH that the average cost of a political race in Texas is still rising, due to the state's sheer size, and the number of major media markets statewide. "If it is a competitive statewide race, it could be a five or ten-million dollar affair," he says. Even a local race will likely require about a half-million dollars.
Nevertheless, there are shortcuts for those looking to cut campaign costs. "Now, we can pinpoint specific voters across different social media and digital channels, and take the message right to them at a much lower cost than, say broadcast TV," says Shuvalov. And he also believes being in a major market can be a big advantage for a candidate. "If you have a good home base like where we live here in Houston, you can run a statewide campaign because, if you have a base here to raise the money from then you can spend it other places."
Gov. Greg Abbott's re-election campaign is apparently taking no chances, with a reported $45 million in the bank ahead of 2018. That may explain why there is still no major Democratic party challenger for Abbott, although he's warned in recent months about Dem efforts to infiltrate Texas' longtime GOP dominance.
In addition to lots of money, an election campaign also requires lots of your time. "It's a full-time job to do it," says Shuvalov. "And it would be difficult if you were working set hours and then trying to campaign after-hours."