The Austin Chronicle

Anticipating the March 3 Election, a Few Numbers to Note

By Michael King, February 28, 2020, 5:30pm, Newsdesk

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir sounded optimistic Monday when she estimated an early vote turnout of 100,000. She may not have been optimistic enough. As of Friday morning (entering the busiest e-vote day), the count had reached 99,470 – 12.09% of registered voters.

By the time you read this, 100,000 will be well in the rear view. That does not necessarily mean Election Day voting will also spike — it might indicate instead that most folks have already made up their minds and voted, and the recent local electoral trend will continue of the early vote both besting election day and effectively determining the outcomes. But it seems certain that the total percentage will exceed DeBeauvoir’s 16% estimate (131,000 total voters), and that Travis County voters are ready and eager to set the pace for the Texas primaries.

A few more interesting stats, these being Congressionally financial (as of Feb. 12 Federal Election Commission filings, rounded) in the six districts that cross Austin. Note that by election day, most of this money will have been spent:

TX-10: Democrats Shannon Hutcheson ($229,000), Pritesh Gandhi ($94,000) and Mike Siegel ($151,000) all entered the stretch run with sufficient resources to sprint; presumably most of that has gone to final weeks TV (and your mailbox). Incumbent Republican Michael McCaul has spent more ($820,000) than he likely anticipated, but with $892,000 cash-on-hand, he’s well-stocked for the general election campaign.

TX-17: Democrats David Jaramillo and Rick Kennedy (in his second, long run) have both spent themselves down to a few thousand (a third longshot, William Foster III, hasn’t filed a report). The interesting numbers are all on the GOP side, where former congressman and district-jumper Pete Sessions has spent more than $500,000 but held only $4,000 at mid-month. Four others (George Hindman, Scott Bland, Elianor Vessali, Renee Swann) have spent in the six figures, which they presumably wouldn’t do (or couldn't raise) if they (and their donors) weren’t convinced Sessions is vulnerable.

TX-21: The general still looks to become a donnybrook between frontrunning Democrat Wendy Davis and incumbent Republican Chip Roy, each of whom reported about $1.3 million COH on Feb. 12. The determined but underfunded additional Democrat, Jennie Lou Leeder, posted an effectively empty kitty that wasn’t large to begin with.

TX-25: Twice-running Democrat Julie Oliver ($109,000) continues to lead DSA challenger Heidi Sloan ($79,000) in fundraising, in a primary that will test each other’s ground game: Oliver has relentlessly worked the entire 13-county district while Sloan focused primarily on Dem-heavy Travis. Neither will outspend incumbent GOP Rep. Roger Williams ($1.3 million) in the general, but whoever survives the primary will have to find voters from San Marcos to Fort Worth for any hopes of an upset.

TX-31: Looking only at the money, there are at least five Democratic candidates who could end up one of the two standing in a runoff (Donna Imam, Eric Hanke, Dan Janjigian, Tammy Young, Christine Eady Mann). Imam husbanded much of her resources until late ($158,000 COH), spending it now on TV, where she has shifted from her self-styled “Healthcare for All” to a Sanders-orthodox “Medicare for All.” Presumably City Council Member Young ($18,000) and twice-running Dr. Eady Mann ($18,000) remain very much in contention. Incumbent GOP Rep. John Carter ($672,000) is having to actually campaign this cycle, but doesn’t appear threatened by his under-resourced rivals.

TX-35: Nothing much has changed in the lone Austin district packed with Democrats, where incumbent Rep. Lloyd Doggett retains $4.8 million to share in the general, where he will likely face sacrificial Republican Nick Moutos.

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