Big spending comes with primary election

Close to $40,000 in combined political expenses were expended in the past month by two candidates vying for the Republican nomination in Hays County’s Pct. 4 Commissioner’s race.

As a result, both Jimmy Skipton and Walt Smith dipped deep into their war chests as the March 6 primaries draw near.

Smith, the creator of the Mallard Group, LLC, a lobbying firm, spent $23,355 on his campaign from Feb. 5 to Feb. 26, according to a campaign finance report filed a week before Election Day. The majority of the expenses, roughly $23,100, went toward consulting, advertising and printing purchases from Patterson and Company in Dripping Springs.

Smith also brought in more than $9,800 in political contributions, with $2,500 coming from Ross Gunnels of College Station and $2,500 from Dick Scott of Wimberley. Smith has $5,742.90 remaining in his war chest.

Not to be outdone, Skipton, a Dripping Springs native who is a wedding venue manager and water district board member, spent just over $15,500 on his campaign from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24, according to campaign finance records. Roughly $12,800 of Skipton’s expenditures went to KC Strategies, an Austin-based consulting firm that assisted with consulting and printing mailers.

Skipton received more than $5,000 in contributions toward his campaign. Driftwood resident Damian Mandola, co-foudner of the Carraba’s Italian Grill chain, and Trina, his wife, contributed $1,000 to Skipton, while former Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner and Hays County Judge Candidate Will Conley contributed $500.

Skipton has $869.33 left in political contributions. The winner of the March 6 primary will face off against Kyle resident Omar Baca, who is the lone Democratic candidate in the Pct. 4 race.

The trend of high spending right before the start of early voting reached over to the race for the Republican bid for the Pct. 3 Commissioner’s seat as well.

Lon Shell, current Pct. 3 Commissioner who is vying for a full-term, accrued $22,221 dollars in political expenses from Jan. 26 to Feb. 24, the majority going to Patterson & Company.

Shell, a Wimberley resident who was named to the Pct. 3 seat when Conley stepped down to run for county judge, received $21,681 in total political contributions.

Six Political Action Committees (PAC) contributed a total of $6,500 to Shell’s campaign, while he also received $1,000 from Scott Roberts, of Driftwood, who is the owner of the Salt Lick. Shell also received a $650 in-kind contribution from Conley.

Colin McFerrin, a Wimberley resident and an attorney based in Kyle, totaled $9,125 in political expenses, the majority going to consulting and printing costs.

But McFerrin pulled in $7,992 in contributions for his campaign during the reporting period, including a $1,000 contribution from Lone Star Gun Rights, an Austin-based group lobbying for constitutional carry legislation.

McFerrin also received a $1,000 in-kind contribution from Fuschak’s in San Marcos and $750 from Wimberley Valley Winery.

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