D6: Flannigan v. Zimmerman

A very close race finally gets called

Don Zimmerman (r), current frontrunner
Don Zimmerman (r), current frontrunner

After 2am this morning, the results were finally in: District 6 candidates Don Zimmerman and Jimmy Flannigan will be heading to the run-off election next month.

The race was extremely close; only 25 votes separated Zimmerman, who came in first, from Flannigan. Between Zimmerman and Jay Wiley, who came in third, 211 votes. The results weren’t entirely expected, as Wiley was the conservative establishment’s favored candidate: Now Governor-elect Greg Abbott joined him on a blockwalk, he earned several endorsements, and the New York Times highlighted his campaign in an October article about Austin’s new City Council.

Wiley says that, in the end, the conservative vote was split down the middle, and Zimmerman does have a good deal of name ID in Travis County. Wiley plans to continue to be involved in public policy, but his only current plans are campaigning for fellow conservative Ellen Troxclair in District 8. “I’m a big fan of hers,” he says. “She’ll make an excellent council person.”

Zimmerman is taking a minute before he begins campaigning for the run-off. With Wiley out of the race, he’ll be able to claim the conservative mantle for his own. Best known to many for his “illegal taxation” lawsuit against the city of Austin, he shows no inclination to soften his stance. On November 3, he wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page, "My younger, inexperienced competitors suggest that I can't 'get along with others' and 'get things done.' Well the fact is, I don't get along with bureaucrats and politicians who lie and deceive and break the rule of law in their lust for power and money." He says that he’ll release more details on his plans for representing D6 on a Council where “the majority of 10-1 votes will likely be for more government and more taxes” later.

Flannigan remains suspicious of Zimmerman’s proclivity for “governance though lawsuit.” He argued throughout his campaign that he would be the only candidate who’d be able to work with the rest of Council to actually get things fixed in D6. “District 6 voters know that to get anything done in 6, you need five more votes.” He made it a point to attend as many forums and meetings as possible during his campaign, including the Republican ones, a decision that may serve him well as he seeks to attract some of Wiley’s voters. Of course, it’s likely that Flannigan, who received the lion’s share of endorsements, will also get some help campaigning from various local Democratic groups. One person who doesn’t plan to “support or endorse” Flannigan (or Zimmerman) is Democrat Matt Stillwell, who placed fourth in the election, and had received censure from the Stonewall Democrats for his recent personal attacks on Flannigan and other candidates.

It will be interesting to see Flannigan and Zimmerman campaign directly against one another. The two are both notable for their lack of regard for sacred cows - for instance, you won’t see either of them falling over himself to defend the high percentage of the budget that gets spent on public safety. It's also hard to say how much Zimmerman's child custody woes, or his legal battle with the Austin Bulldog over their reporting of the story will come into play. But based on the personal style of the two men, this may be a run-off campaign where policies are actually debated, whether the voters like it or not.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Mayoral & City Council, November 2014 Election, City Council & Mayoral, Jimmy Flannigan, Don Zimmerman

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