Brand continues outspending Darling as Saturday election looms

McAllen mayoral candidate Othal E. Brand Jr. outspent incumbent Mayor Jim Darling by a 2-to-1 margin between January and March — then Brand outspent Darling by a 3-to-1 margin in April, campaign finance reports show.

As Saturday’s election looms larger, Brand spent just over $84,000 from April 1 through April 26 while Darling spent almost $24,000 from April 1 through April 28, according to campaign finance reports filed with the City Secretary’s office.

From January to April, Brand spent $107,000 while Darling spent $55,000, according to campaign finance reports.

The third mayoral candidate, Jonathan Carranza, has spent slightly more than $1,000 from April 7 through April 28.

Brand, son of longtime Mayor Othal Brand, has mostly relied on loans, the reports show. He loaned himself $64,700 in the April reporting period, and before that Brand loaned himself $74,000 from January to April. Darling did not report any loans in either period.

“I always figured from the get-go I’d spend $200,000 to $250,000,” Brand said. “I’m the challenger, not the incumbent. I don’t have that advantage Jim has.”

Brand also spent close to $30,000 on advertising across several platforms, which he called a “shotgun approach.” Darling was more reserved in his advertising approach.

“You know, he’s said it, but an incumbent always has a little bit of an advantage with name recognition,” Darling said. “Now he has plenty from his dad. But the way I look at it is, if people like their city and like where things are going, that’s a little bit of advertising, too.”

Brand received nearly $20,000 in contributions during the April period while Darling received almost $50,000, thanks to two fundraisers that were held for him in the last month.

Meanwhile, late spending was a little different than the first three months for the two District 2 Commissioner candidates, the only other competitive race for the McAllen City Commission.

Incumbent Trey Pebley spent $4,500 from April 7 through April 28 while challenger Joaquin “J.J.” Zamora spent $7,000 in that same time frame.

From January to April, Pebley spent $17,000 compared to Zamora’s nearly $8,000.

“I spent more upfront because 80 percent of your votes come during early voting,” Pebley said. “If 80 percent of the votes come from early voting, than we figured we’d try to approach those folks.”

Zamora, an Hidalgo County assistant district attorney, said a big reason for his $7,000 in spending was because of the more than $9,000 in contributions he received in April. Pebley received $2,400 in contributions during the same period.

Zamora said a bulk of the money was spent on three mailers. He also spent over $1,000 on newspaper advertising.

“I really tried to keep it under $10,000,” Zamora said of his overall campaign spending. “It was very grassroots, and obviously I’m a novice — I have no campaign manager, no PR person, so I was wrong (about the spending). But a lot of wonderful attorneys and others were extremely generous, so I was able to spend some more money.”