Dave Rogers / For The Record

The biggest loser in the 2018 elections left Orange County with about $9,000 still remaining in his campaign coffers.

And former county judge Stephen Brint Carlton has six years to decide what to do with it, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

In the July 16 candidate’s filing that Carlton sent to Orange County Elections Administration, the landslide loser in the March 6 Republican primary election showed he took in $21,112 in campaign contributions and spent $12,203.

The TEC’s Campaign Finance Guide says Carlton has six years to dispense with the $8,909 remaining in his campaign account by one of several methods:

He can give it to the Republican Party; contribute it to a candidate or a political committee; donate it to a charitable organization, use it to create a scholarship for a school; or return some or all of it to those who backed his campaign.

He could return 42 cents of each dollar contributed by those who backed him in his race against Dean Crooks and made him the county’s top 2018 fundraiser.

“I certainly don’t plan on keeping it that [six years] long,” Carlton said last week.

“I have an idea what I’ll do but I didn’t get a chance to do it before the filing period. I’ll probably do it here in the next few months and file a final report on it.”

Carlton’s final report showed a March 2 contribution of $1,000 by Orange attorney David Dies.

The ex-judge, now running operations for the Texas Medical Association in Austin, says he held back some funds for a possible run-off election against Crooks

“Not knowing what was going to happen, plus I did all the stuff that I wanted to do anyways,” Carlton answered when asked why the big fund balance.

“I wasn’t just going to spend money just for the heck of it. That’s really not my style. So I held that money in reserve, in case of whatever happened.”

Besides his contributors, Carlton loaned his own campaign about $11,000, all of which he has repaid himself.

In the last week of his campaign, he paid area newspapers about $2,000 for advertising.

Crooks, who has no Democrat opponent in November and is filling an interim term as county judge, finished as the top Orange County spender in the 2018 election.

Another $2,000 of expenditures on his July 9 report pushed his total spending to $16,000. But like Carlton, he listed a personal reimbursement as a political expense – on June 15, about $1,300 from Crooks’ campaign went to pay back Crooks – so both candidates’ expense and contribution lines are blurred.

He did list about $680 in advertising expenses in March against $100 in donations.

For the entire campaign, Crooks reported just a little more than $3,000 in contributions plus his $5,000 personal loan.

Justice of the Peace Hershel Stagner, Jr., showed a war chest of $11,450 for his November run against Democrat Gail Barnett for the Precinct 1 seat.

He also showed a $10,000 personal loan. For the period from Feb. 25 to June 30, Stagner listed two $100 donations against $2,700 in expenses, with about $2,500 spent on advertising from the GOP Store in Huntsville.

Barnett has so far listed no contributions. Posting campaign signs is prohibited until a month before the Nov. 6 election.

The only other contested race on November’s local ballot will be the Precinct 2 County Commissioner showdown between upset GOP primary winner Theresa Beauchamp and Democrat Deborah Mitchell.

Beauchamp, who originally had a four-vote margin over two-term commissioner Barry Burton and, after a recount, a two-vote win, took no contributions during the February through June period, while spending $650.

Nearly $500 was for advertising in the Record, with the rest going to her victory party after the primary.

Mitchell filed her first report, showing she had received $1,000 in $500 donations each from the Sabine Area Labor Council and the Plumbers Local 68 of Houston.

Her expenses came in at just under $1,000 for advertising.