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And they're off! Mid-year campaign finance reports kick off election season 

Locally, LaHood follows fellow Dem White's path of out-raising GOP establishment candidate.

The Texas Ethics Commission website has been getting quite a workout today as journos, political operatives, campaign finance reformers and apparently everyone in between try to access the site's mid-year campaign finance report filings, due yesterday. The strain of actual interest proved too much for the TEC site, which has been operating sporadically at best since we checked it early this morning.

The big news, as reported by Texas Tribune, is that Democrat gubernatorial candidate Bill White out-raised GOP incumbent Rick Perry by $300,000 in this reporting period, running from January 1, 2010 to June 30, 2010. That's interesting, but potentially more interesting is that White also has a cash-on-hand balance of $3.1 million more than Perry, cementing the notion that White will indeed give Perry a run for his money this fall.

Frustrated by the TEC website's frequent crashes, QueQue paid a visit to the Bexar County Elections Department to peruse their hardcopies of many local candidates' mid-year filings. There we found our own version of the White/Perry story, with Nico LaHood, Democrat contender for District Attorney, outshining 12-year GOP incumbent Susan Reed. Thanks in part to basketball stars Tim Duncan and Sean Elliot's generous contributions, LaHood cashed in $190,204.41 this filing period. Spurs CEO Peter Holt, meanwhile, backed Susan Reed, but not enough to push her past LaHood. Reed's total contributions for 2010 thus far are $160,931.34. LaHood, who seems to have been running this race since time began, also has more cash-on-hand, $229,685.12 to Reed's $205,679.28. These numbers are consistent with the last filing period, when LaHood startlingly raised $127,000 to Reed's $3,700. One area where Reed's numbers far outpace LaHood's is in the expenditures department, she paid out $118,004.60 in membership dues, contributions, campaign supplies and political consulting while LaHood only let go of $37,424.20. Learn more about LaHood next week with Greg Harman's profile on the dark horse with some smart money behind him.

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