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Early Voting: Solid but Unspectacular
Seven days of early voting are behind us, and now my early predictions of nearly 50% turnout are looking a little rosy. Thus far, 37,427 Travis County citizens have voted early, including a high of 6,852 on Friday (people shopping for their weekend party snacks?). Another 3,735 ballots have been received by mail, for a total of 41,207, or 7.42% of Travis' registered voters. At this pace, I'd estimate final turnout will be in the 35-40% range. Highest turnout has been at the Randalls grocery at 10900 Research, 4,012 voters; lowest has been, sadly but predictably, in the poorer Eastside neighborhoods that need representation the most.

Early voting is easy, so there's no excuse if you are registered: You may cast your ballot at any early voting location.

1:52PM Mon. Oct. 30, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Uh-Oh … Lampson No Longer Such a Sure Bet
A Houston Chronicle/Zogby poll indicates that we pundit/journalist types may have greatly underestimated the intelligence of voters in Congressional District 22. The conventional wisdom has been that Democrat Nick Lampson was a shoo-in because the only Republican in the race is a write-in. That is because even though Tom DeLay withdrew from the race and had his name removed from the ballot, courts ruled that he was nonetheless the nominee chosen by GOP primary voters in May and state party leaders could not arbitrarily replace his name with another Republican. It has been assumed that the write-in campaign of Houston city council member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs wouldn't stand a chance because remembering her name and typing it in would be just too hard. Not so, says the Zogby Poll: 36% support Lampson, but 35% say they'll support a write-in candidate, and most of those write-ins say they will be for Sekula-Gibbs. "Punditry was coloring the district blue," Zogby told the Houston Chronicle. "It's still a Republican district. Even harder than selling a write-in, is selling a Democrat in this district."

12:41PM Mon. Oct. 30, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

The PAC Behind The Curtain
All you eye-glazed city staffers take note (we're looking at you, Brewster): quit hitting your refresh button and get some fresh air. Specifically, if you head over to Sixth and Lamar, you'll enter the land of Oz. Affordable housing advocates and Prop 5 proponents HousingWorks Action will be there from from 11:30am to 1pm and again from 4:30pm to 6pm in Wizard of Oz garb, letting prospective voters and befuddled drive-timers know "there's no place like home." Where else could you hope to see Mark Yznaga in pigtails and ruby slippers?

11:03AM Mon. Oct. 30, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

"Everyone knows it's really Las Manitas!"
Regarding last week's edict from the Travis County Libertarian Party advising against all seven bond propositions, 7 Steps For a Better Austin spokesperson Mark Nathan had something to say. As reported in this morning's edition of In Fact Daily, Nathan opined "Extreme fiscal conservatism is one thing, but it's hard not to recoil in horror when someone suggests that flea markets and taco stands should suffice to serve as Hispanic cultural centers in Austin. That's just plain offensive." Not that that's what Wes Benedict necessarily said, however.

Read the offending passage after the jump...

10:18AM Mon. Oct. 30, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

That's so 2004
Rick Perry's campaign has trotted out an unfunny anti-French radio ad attacking Chris Bell's voting record in Congress. OK, some of the audio is cute, like the "Mr. Way Too Liberal for Texas Guy" theme song, borrowed from a Bud Light commercial. But then comes the tired and predictable: "You voted to let the United Nations oversee elections in America, because no one stands up for Democracy like the French! So wear your fancy beret with pride, Congressman Bell. Liberals everywhere salute you." Oh, please. Is this the same Rick Perry who said, "words matter," when he tsk-tsked Kinky Friedman's ethnic jokes? If Perry is so bent on using stereotypes to attack Bell, seems like a Mexican sombrero would be more 2006-ish because, as the radio ad points out, Bell is soft as brie (our words) on immigration.

8:26AM Mon. Oct. 30, 2006, Amy Smith Read More | Comment »

Good Odds for the Democrats
I know better than to get my hopes up. I've seen Democrats snatch defeat from the jaws of victory before. But let's face it, the handwriting on the wall does indeed seem to favor the donkeys this time around. Exhibit A: Look at the current polling on Majority Watch. Of the 54 House districts that RT Strategies/Constituent Dynamics is polling, 26 of them are projected to flip from one party to the other (27, if you count the Vermont seat that Independent Bernie Sanders is giving up, although he was functionally a Democrat). Of those 26, not one of them is projected to flip D to R. They're all predicted to go from Republican to Democrat. And that's not even counting Tom DeLay's former seat in TX-22, which seems certain to flip to Democrat Nick Lampson (EDIT: Or maybe not – see my new post on this race in the "Key Texas Races" section). Now of course, several of those races are within the margin of error, so a few could stay in Republican hands. But since the Dems need 16 to take back the House, that's a pretty healthy bit of breathing room. On top of that, there are five seats that are considered dead heats at the moment – and all five are currently in Republican hands. So put another way: Of the 202 currently Democratic seats, not one is under threat. The question is not whether the Democrats will gain, it's just whether they will gain enough. Any Yella Dog has to like those odds.

11:13PM Fri. Oct. 27, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

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With $5 million in repairs and improvements promised within for Austin Studios, Prop. 4 would be a shot in the arm to Austin's film scene. Understandably, the local film community is psyched about the proposition, and is pulling out the stops in promoting the prop. The talented crew at 05min Productions recently created an eye-popping, retro-chic commercial endorsing Prop. 4 on behalf of I'm for 4 PAC. And unlike those infamous “Vote for 4” fortune cookies reported earlier here, it has a campaign finance disclaimer prominently attached at the end.

But a completely different problem is – the clip appears to be a copyright infringement on the film it samples. The commercial is composed of clips from the 1970 Sidney Portier film They Call Me Mister Tibbs, sequel to the Academy Award winning In the Heat of the Night. Ingeniously, 05min Productions edited scenes from the film where its characters discuss the fate of their own Prop. 4. It's an ingenious repurposing of the original film, seamlessly pulled off.

5:14PM Fri. Oct. 27, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

Just So We're Clear on This …
Due to an editing error, this week's paper version of the Chronicle accidentally cut Mary Beth Harrell's name off of our list of endorsements. So, lest anyone think we've retracted it: The Austin Chronicle enthusiastically endorses Mary Beth Harrell for Congressional District 31, which stretches from the Williamson County portion of North Austin, through Fort Hood, and up to Erath County. She is the best choice over that district's current wretched excuse for a congressman, John Carter. For the full-length text of our endorsements, click here.

4:07PM Fri. Oct. 27, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Breaking: Libertarians Are Cheap-Asses
Warning that "seven bad bonds enable seven bad habits," Travis County Libertarian Party schoolmarm Wes Benedict announced today his party opposes all seven City of Austin bond propositions. (On an unrelated note, WTF's up with the SRV statue on their website? Perchance, if the bonds do pass, would it be said "the sky is crying?")

Their brutal opinion, prop-by-prop, after the jump...

10:37AM Fri. Oct. 27, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

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