Fort Worth center of battle to control Texas legislature

As Election Day grew closer, campaign cash flowed into Tarrant County's hotly contested Senate and House races, where the political subtext is how much power each party will have in Austin next year.

In the last month, state Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, raised $610,000 and spent $1.4 million. His Democratic opponent, former Fort Worth Councilwoman Wendy Davis, took in $523,000 and paid out $866,000, according to campaign contribution reports released Tuesday.

Taking into account how much has been raised and spent since July by both candidates, Brimer and Davis raised $1.6 million and spent $2.8 million — amounts that political observers said were astonishing.

"We are seeing a nuclear arms race in money from people with a lot at stake," said James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University.

Similar mountains of cash could be found in the financial reports of the races for Texas House Districts 96 and 97, where Democrats hope to win one seat and hold onto another in their effort to wrest control of the lower chamber from the Republicans and House Speaker Tom Craddick.

"Tarrant County has become the battleground. Republicans were surprised in Dallas County in 2006, and they are making their stand this year in Tarrant and Harris" counties, said Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report, an Austin political newsletter.

"The margins of the majority are so slim in the Texas House it is an all-or-nothing game."

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