Live Election Coverage
Is it over yet?
By the News Staff,
10:42PM, Tue. Nov. 8, 2016
Will our democracy survive the night? Will Texas inch a little closer to turning Travis-County-blue? Will D6 voters show CM Don Zimmerman the door? We’ve got questions and, fingers crossed, we’ll have all the answers tonight. Follow the Chronicle news team’s election coverage here and on Twitter: #ACvotes.
That's it from us tonight. Local races are all but over. By now, only the District 10 City Council race and the competition for commissioner in Travis County Precinct 3 remain for consideration. Commissioner Gerald Daugherty’s lead over David Holmes sits at only 1,700; it remains too close to call. In District 10, incumbent Sheri Gallo holds a 5,000-vote lead over primary challenger Alison Alter, but with two other candidates in the race, Gallo appears destined to fall short of 50%. She and Gallo are expected to go to a run-off race, to be decided Dec. 13. If you haven’t yet, we recommend turning your focus toward the presidential race, where Hillary Clinton’s campaign against Donald Trump at present remains too close for anyone to sleep comfortably. – Chase Hoffberger
Don’s Ending Days: As reported earlier today, the Chronicle had been barred from attending Don Zimmerman’s election party at his campaign office on Anderson Mill Road. Turns out we didn’t miss much of an affair. The District 6 incumbent opened to a quick deficit, trailing 42% to 57% after early voting results came in. At 9:50pm, that lead remained unchanged. Zimmerman told KUT shortly before 8:30pm that he would “probably” concede. Chronicle photographer David Brendan Hall swung by Zimmerman’s field office around 9:30pm and reported that the Council member had already gone home. He said “the stench of defeat hangs heavy” and that roughly two dozen people were sticking around to finish the leftover pizza and remaining beers. – Chase Hoffberger
10:05pm: The latest numbers from the Travis County Elections Office.
9:47pm:The final tally isn't in, but Alison Alter's camp is confident that they're heading into a runoff between Alter and incumbent Sheri Gallo. Alter addressed the crowd at Santa Rita around 9pm, thanking everyone who attended for donating to her campaign and canvassing on her behalf. "This really does take a village," she said. But the fight is far from over for the Harvard-educated challenger. Alter told her supporters she that "needs boots on the ground" for the final push before the runoff takes place on Dec. 13. "Voter turnout on the runoff election is key for us," said Tom Fusburr, a field organizer for Alter's campaign. – Annamarya Scaccia
9:47pm:Scenes from the Travis County Democratic Party event at the Driskill.
It wasn’t 8 o’clock yet when Delia Garza took to a microphone outside at Trudy’s South to address her crowd and supporters in the city’s Southeast District 2. Nearly an hour before, the incumbent council member saw her early voting numbers open to a large lead: 66% to Casey Ramos’ 18% and Wesley Faulkner’s 15%. A few minutes before taking the mic, Garza told the Chronicle that she was excited to establish continuity on the dais for the underrepresented district. “I think it means a lot to elevate the voice of this area even more,” she said. “would have been a disadvantage to start over. I’ve learned so much in these two years. Even just learning which staff to ask what question to. It would have set our district back to bring somebody new in. So I’m very honored to be given this privilege once again, so we can continue pushing this progressive policy and do all that we can do keep middle class families here in Austin.” – Chase Hoffberger
Travis Co. House delegation: names change, but split stays the same, 5 Dems, 1 GOP. #ACvotes— Richard Whittaker (@YorkshireTX) November 9, 2016
9:25pm: The latest numbers from the Travis County Elections Office.
9:16pm: Currently pulling 72.9% of the vote, incumbent D7 CM Leslie Pool looks set to cruise to victory. Here she takes a selfie with supporters Jackie OKeefe and Andrew Donoho at her campaign party at La Mancha.
If you're thinking of going to the Driskill, forget it. At capacity, line out the door #acvotes— Richard Whittaker (@YorkshireTX) November 9, 2016
Flannigan just delivered his victory speech to a loud, cheering crowd. "I'm not usually at a loss for words..." jokes Flannigan #ACvotes— Mary Tuma (@TumaTime) November 9, 2016
Anxious times: The Travis County Democratic Party watch party has grown considerably more sober as the electoral map turns redder.
Pool Party: District 7 Council Member Leslie Pool walked into her campaign party at La Mancha with the knowledge that she won the early voting by a sizable margin. Asked about her plans for the next four years, Pool said she already has plans to sit down with her staff and map out the next term's agenda. Sustainable funding for parks and a renewed emphasis on ending homelessness are just two of the issues she plans to take up. "I am just so darn proud of this county," she said, noting the extraordinary turnout in Travis County. "It's been quite a year to run. I'm just honored by their votes for re-election." Pool's challenger, Natalie Gauldin, did not answer calls for comment. – Nina Hernandez
Early voting results in the D10 race are favoring incumbent Sheri Gallo, who leads with 48% of the votes. Lead challenger Alison Alter is trailing close behind with 37% of the votes. Chances at grabbing the seat, though, look dim for fellow opponents Virden and Walker. Walker has received 13% of votes, while Virden has only mustered 2%. Alter wouldn't comment on the results as she said it's too early to tell if there will be a winner or if the race will result in a runoff. Virden, though, hadn't looked at the early numbers yet and told the Chronicle he wasn't "in a place to do that right now...Maybe later this evening," he said. Walker and Gallo could not be reached for comment. On the other hand, supporters at Alter's election party at Santa Rita Cantina on W. 38th street cheered for District 6 contender Jimmy Flannigan and District 7 incumbent Leslie Pool when the voting results popped up on the television. – Annamarya Scaccia
8:01pm: The Mayor's feeling pretty good about the early numbers on the mobility bond – 59.83% of tallied early voters are giving Prop 1 the thumbs up.
7:53pm: More early voting results.
A D6 Do Over? Early voting results for D6 are in and with 34 precincts reported, Flannigan races solidly ahead with 12,542 votes at 57.65%. Zimmerman trails with 9,213 or 42.35% of the vote. We’re still waiting for election day results. Stay tuned! (In the December 2014 runoff, Flannigan came out with 3,821 votes, or 48.78% while Zimmerman led with 4,012 votes at 51.22% of the total.) Flannigan tells the Chronicle he's "overjoyed" at the early election results. Says they're even better than his campaign anticipated. – Mary Tuma
7:32pm:At 7pm, the Elections Division of the Travis County Clerk's Office has begun issuing early voting numbers. Here’s how the City Council races and Prop 1 vote are looking.
5:55pm: Travis County polls close at 7pm, but so long as you're in line, you'll be able to cast your vote. On the fence? How about a little encouragement?
GET UP. GET OUT. VOTE! pic.twitter.com/I4OpgDr9vL— Danny Trejo (@officialDannyT) November 8, 2016
Mobility or Not?: Move Austin Forward campaign manager Jim Wick reports today's turnout is "as expected," as we near first returns at 7pm. Reports the campaign is "cautiously optimistic." – Michael King
5:50pm:Every Last Vote: Precinct 1 Commissioner candidate Jeff Travillion has hit about 10 voting locations today, seen lines waiting 45 minutes to an hour "even in the rain." Although Travillion is heavily favored to succeed retiring Commissioner Ron Davis, he says he's "taking nothing for granted" and letting voters know "how we will serve." Travillion's opponents are Republican Pat McCord and Ashely "Flashe" Gordon, also the Travis County Green Party co-chair. – Michael King
5:45pm:Time Passes Slowly: Checking in with Precinct 3 Dem challenger David Holmes – says he's "trying to reach every last voter" today, but anticipates a new record for percentage of early votes in total Travis County turnout. Also muses: "Thinking of asking Guinness Book of Records if this is the longest day ever!" We know how he feels . . . (We've contacted incumbent Gerald Daugherty, will update when we hear . . .)– Michael King
District 7 challenger Natalie Gauldin reiterated this afternoon she will not be having an official election night party. Instead, she plans to watch the numbers roll in at a private gathering. She may appear at some other parties, but "can't promise anything." "I'm sure the results aren't going to be especially surprising," she said, "but I'm feeling good about how they're going to look." 30-days-out campaign finance reports released in mid-October show how drastically Gauldin was being out-raised ($43,654 for incumbent Leslie Pool, $21,285 for Gauldin); that trend only continued up until election day. Beginning at 7pm Pool's supporters will watch from La Mancha (2203 Hancock). They expect their candidate to arrive sometime in that hour. – Nina Hernandez
Déjà vu for Gallo? When Sheri Gallo ran for City Council two years ago, she was one of eight candidates vying for the District 10 spot. It was a crowded pool that resulted in a runoff election, which Gallo won by less than 10 points. Tonight, the incumbent may experience some déjà vu as she faces off against three challengers for her seat at the dais: philanthropic advisor Alison Alter, market analyst Nick Virden, and international tax accountant Rob Walker. The candidate pool may be smaller this time around, but Gallo still has a fight on her hands – particularly with Alter, who’s come ahead as a lead challenger in the race. From the beginning, Alter has billed herself as the antithesis to Gallo – where the council member may bend to “special interests,” Alter has said she’ll put “community first.” And tensions rose between the two early in the race after Gallo removed Alter from her appointment on the Parks and Recreation Board back in August. So while Walker and Virden have made strong campaign pushes in the last few weeks, the spotlight will no doubt be on the numbers next to Gallo and Alter’s names. The question is: Will Gallo see a repeat of 2014? – Annamarya Scaccia
Nothing’s over until it’s over, but the District 2 race for City Council could be over in a hurry. Delia Garza, the incumbent in the district and representative in City Council since Jan. 2015, is expected to run away with the election. A big win would frame Garza’s night much in the same way that her evening went during the Nov. 2014 election, when she took home 65.8% of the vote in a four-candidate race. One of the Council member’s opponents in this election, student and boxer Casey Ramos, hasn’t even been in town over the past few days: He was slated for a boxing match in Las Vegas on Friday. Garza’s other challenger, tech advocate Wesley Faulkner, has brought an optimistic approach to his campaign, but hasn’t appeared to challenge Garza with any legitimate substance. He’ll be spending the evening tonight at the Capital Factory’s party Downtown, out of his own district. Ramos hasn’t publicized where he plans to party. Garza told the Chronicle she’ll be at Trudy’s South on Little Texas Lane shortly after early voting results are in, and may proceed to the Texas Dems party at the Driskill, depending on how the night shakes out. – Chase Hoffberger
Because queso: Most Democratic candidates in Travis County will be heading down to the county party gathering at the Driskill, but don't expect an early appearance by Austin ISD Place 8 candidate David Ryan Quintanilla. This morning he said his priority will be his joint election night party with Place 2 incumbent Jayme Mathias at Serranos Restaurant on W. US-290. Quintanilla said his emphasis this evening will be on thanking his volunteers, and that the party is really for them. If you're wondering about the less than central location, it's partially because Quintanilla's family founded and owns the local mini-chain. – Richard Whittaker
Poor District, Rich Fundraising: The District 4 race looks to be a slam-dunk for incumbent Greg Casar, very differently from 2014, when eight candidates filed for the first 10-1 election and Casar eventually defeated Laura Pressley in a runoff, a recount, and a legal challenge (still under appeal). This time around, Casar faces two challengers: state environmental engineer Louis Herrin III (who also ran last time), who vowed not to raise any money (and from his filing reports, kept his promise), and traffic engineer Gonzalo Camacho, who raised primarily a $2,500 self-loan but has done virtually no campaigning. Former Workers Defense Project organizer Casar, meanwhile, has shown considerable popularity and fundraising chops, topping out (as of 8-days-out) at $130,600. Presumably, he’ll have at least four more years to contemplate his next political move. – Michael King
Don Zimmerman’s campaign appears done with The Austin Chronicle. Just a few minutes before 2pm, staff writer Mary Tuma called the District 6 Council Member’s campaign manager Tim Kelly to confirm the location of Zimmerman’s election night party and was met with what she described as a cursing and yelling, with Kelly telling her that she “had blown [her] chances” of ever getting Zimmerman on record again. Kelly also told Tuma that she would not be invited to attend Zimmerman’s election night party, which is being held in the Council member’s District 6 campaign office (10401 Anderson Mill Road). [ed. note: Zimmerman’s party was at his campaign office not his field office, which is tax-funded.]
According to Tuma, Kelly’s blow-up came in response to a story she wrote Oct. 7, “The Wrath of Don,” about accusations from district constituents that Zimmerman was verbally abusing area non-supporters both online and in-person. Kelly emailed a quote to Tuma for the story, in which he recounted the details of his history in the military and 30 years “risk[ing] his life for the freedoms outlined in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill(s) of Rights. OF which contains the right to free speech.” Neither Zimmerman nor Kelly disputed Tuma’s story, or Kelly’s provided quote, or offered to issue a correction or any other additional comment in response to the allegations that the council member was acting abusively toward his district constituents.
The Chronicle called Kelly this afternoon, shortly after Tuma detailed her phone call with the campaign manager. After identifying ourselves, he offered a friendly “Hey man, how are you?” but hung up without comment after being asked if Tuma’s report of the interaction was accurate. Kelly has yet to respond to follow-up texts and emails from the Chronicle. – Chase Hoffberger
What, Me Bitter? Dove Springs advocate Edward Reyes, defeated for District 2 Council member in 2014 by incumbent Delia Garza, hasn't forgotten (66%-16%) nor apparently forgiven. On his Facebook page today, he posted a photo of a foot (presumably his own) stomping on a Garza flier, with the note: "I still feel the same. It's personal to most of us. This is home and historic." (Reyes is supporting Casey Ramos in today's D2 race.) – Michael King
As of 3:00 pm, 65,000 voters have cast a ballot.https://t.co/WrkTuUd2YB— Travis County Clerk (@TravisCoClerk) November 8, 2016
Prop. 1 PAC Spending: If Mayor Steve Adler’s “Go Big” Mobility Bond loses, it won’t be for lack of trying – or spending. By its 8-day-out report (Oct. 31), the Austin Forward political action committee supporting the bond had spent in excess of $700,000, with $75,000 cash on hand for the final week. Bond opponents funding two PACs – Sensible Transportation Solutions and Honest Transportation Solutions – had together collected about $160,000, and spent roughly two-thirds of that funding (as of filing date Oct. 31). STS, initially funded almost entirely by former Texas Monthly publisher Mike Levy, has since collected about $16,000 from “Macho Marketing” for newspaper advertising. The ad firm, reports its website, is the “in-house marketing agency for the Continental Automotive Group," five auto dealerships in Austin and Corpus Christi, owned by Bryan Hardeman and his family. One of those dealerships is the Airport Boulevard Mercedes-Benz – and Hardeman was a member of the city’s citizen’s advisory group working on the Airport Blvd. redesign. Perhaps he didn’t care for the plan … – Michael King
More Love, Less Hate: Although its outcome will hit close to home, the Austin Mobility Bond (aka Proposition 1), down near the bottom of the ballot, is perhaps also low on everybody's mind today. Last week we reported on a mistaken Twitter allegation that San Diego tycoon (and Trump supporter) Douglas F. Manchester had contributed to the Prop. 1 campaign – it was in fact the Manchester Texas Financial Group directed by son Douglas W. Manchester. Douglas W. subsequently told the Chronicle: "A recent social media tweet attempted to link my support of the City of Austin's Prop 1 with Donald Trump. While I share aspirations with my father for quality development work, we have many different political views – and it’s ludicrous to try to connect dots between my support of Prop 1 to the presidential election. I would personally like Austinites to know I have not [and] will not support Trump. Furthermore, I strongly believe in the inherent rights of all – including women, LGBT and minorities. The world needs more love and less hate – almost as badly as Austin needs real transportation solutions. Go Prop 1!” – Michael King
A not-so-friendly fight in D7: The District 7 race is a classic example of a well-funded incumbent, Leslie Pool, vs. a political newcomer on a shoestring budget, in this case Natalie Gauldin. It remains to be seen if density activist Gauldin – who got her start advocating for a development in neighboring District 10 – can bridge that resource gap, but she has consistently attacked Pool's pro-traditional neighborhood agenda. In the other camp, Pool adviser Matt Hersh frequently called into question Gauldin's experience and use of "buzzwords like affordability and transportation." Early on Gauldin embraced the fact that her political engagement started when she became involved with the Grove at Shoal Creek zoning case nearly two years ago, founding Facebook forum Friends of the Grove, and has tried to make that a strength. Later this evening, we'll find out it she was successful. – Nina Hernandez
“District 7: Political Insiders and Average Joes,” Aug. 26
“D7 CM Leslie Pool Draws a Challenger,” July 8
“10-1, Take Two: Leslie Pool: Neighborhood Defender,” May 20
1:35pm: Chronicle music columnist Kevin Curtin did his civic duty. Have you?
The Travis County Clerk’s Twitter feed is posting intermittent updates to voting totals through Election Day. As of 1pm, 51,000 voters had cast a ballot within the county. That’s up from 36,874 voters who’d already hit the polls by 11am. – Chase Hoffberger
District 6 Déjà Vu: Council Member Don Zimmerman heads into a rematch against challenger Jimmy Flannigan, who narrowly lost to the incumbent in the December 2014 runoff. The election will test voters’ patience for Zimmerman’s abrasive leadership style, many Council vote abstentions, and recent controversies that include lecturing a group of Latino school children on their usefulness to society. Flannigan hasn’t been shy about criticizing Zimmerman and touting his own ability to compromise in the face of his opponent’s often argumentative demeanor. And the Northwest Austin race could be a close one: Recent polls commissioned by the Austin Monitor show Flannigan in the lead, a possibility made more realistic considering Zimmerman bested Flannigan by less than 200 votes the first time around. – Mary Tuma
Read more on the D6 race:
"District 6: These Guys Again," Aug. 26
"Zimmerman and Flannigan Face Off in a Candidate Forum," Sept. 16
"The Wrath of Don," Oct. 7
"A Sign Ahead of Its Time?," July 29
"Election Notes: District 6, mobility fits, and complaints of campaign thrift," Oct. 28
12:25pm: This just in from the Desk of No Surprises: Former Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole has confirmed that she will run in next year's special election to succeed Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Pflugerville, in representing House District 46. Dukes announced back in September that she would step down in January. Read more.
Anyone worried about voter intimidation, yes tell the press, but call 800-253-3931 or email email@example.com DOJ first! #acvotes— Richard Whittaker (@YorkshireTX) November 8, 2016
Today’s the day. Travis County polling stations are open until 7pm tonight. You can find the nearest polling location, as well as updated wait times, at the Travis County Clerk’s website. Here’s the link to the Chronicle’s endorsements to local, state, and national races. Want to watch the returns tonight with Council candidates? Here’s our list of candidate campaign parties. If you’re looking for a boozier way to get through the night, our promotions team has suggestions for bar watch parties, like Hecklevision at the Highball and We Are Blood’s bash at the North Door.