What do political candidates and deer semen have in common, other than the makings for some potentially godawful Larry the Cable Guy fodder? Well, here in Texas, the two reportedly go hand in hand when it comes to campaign finance. The Dallas Morning News reports that deer semen has been helping to fund campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats across the state for over a decade.
Between 2006 and 2016, the Texas Deer Association’s political action committee received $976,025 in deer semen donations and likewise doled out $885,695 in funds, including a cool $20,000 to Houston radio personality-turned-Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In February, Ana Lisa Garza, a Starr County District Court Judge currently running for a House seat, also reported receiving $51,000 worth of deer semen donations—that's over half of her total campaign funding, straight from the loins of ruminant mammals.
Deer semen, it turns out, is a hot commodity. A study by Texas A&M reports that deer breeding generates $349.4 million in direct economic impacts for the state and provides 16,892 jobs. As of 2016, there were 1,257 breeding facilities in Texas. There are numerous websites that sell frozen "straws," semen samples used for artificial insemination, for hundreds or even thousands of dollars a pop. One breeder tells the Dallas Morning News that it's possible to get 60 straws off a single buck in one collection, and that donating them to the Texas Deer Association is common practice for many in the industry.
According to the Chron, Texan's deer breeding obsession began due to a single buck named Patrick that an Ohio farmer bred back in the 1980s. Patrick grew a 12-point rack as a yearling, which is extremely rare, before blossoming into a behemoth with a veritable oak tree of antler sprouting from his highly-coveted head. When he was sold to a Texan in 1987, Patrick basically incited the breeding craze that today provides big-antlered bucks for trophy hunting, an industry that generates yet another $860 million to the Texas economy.
Like everything else in politics, this all just boils down to the big bucks.