Naked City

Nice Girls Finish Last

Grassroots support may be enough to get you out of the gate, but it can't guarantee you'll be first across the finish line.

That's the lesson that Susan Haney, a first-time candidate with plenty of enthusiasm and legal experience but scant money or Democratic party support, learned Tuesday night when she lost very narrowly to Scott Jenkins in the race for the 53rd District Court.

Jenkins, who enjoyed the support of more than 650 lawyers and dozens of old-line Democratic Party backers, won by a surprisingly small margin of 53-47% -- especially surprising given that, as the candidate with the largest, most vocal support, his fundraising eclipsed Haney's by a substantial margin.

Haney, who ran a small, grassroots campaign out of her law office in Central Austin, was backed by her clients, other professionals, and members of her church. Jenkins, meanwhile, had the backing of the Austin Lesbian and Gay Political Caucus, the AFL-CIO, and the Austin Women's Political Caucus, among other mainstays of Democratic party politics, as well as the aid of several high-profile campaign consultants, including local campaign veterans Pat Crow and David Butts. Tuesday night, Haney was upbeat about her narrow loss to Jenkins, noting that her vote totals weren't too shabby given Jenkins' overwhelming advantage out of the gate.

If Jenkins wins in November, he will take over a position focused heavily on civil litigation, which also makes up the bulk of his private practice, a firm he founded called Jenkins and Deats. His opponent in the general election for the seat being vacated by retiring judge Mary Pearl Williams will be Republican John Drolla, who ran uncontested.

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