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Former Texas Land Commissioner Garry Mauro is lending his semi-celebrity status to Jeff Heckler's campaign for Travis County Commissioner. Precinct 2 residents in Central and North Austin heard Mauro's familiar drawl in a recorded voice mail splash left on several hundred answering machines this week.

Heckler is running in the Democratic primary against incumbent Karen Sonleitner, who is seeking her third term on the commissioners court. In the message, Mauro relates that he's "calling to tell you about a friend of mine," then proceeds to recount how he and Heckler worked together to stop the Longhorn Pipeline (both were paid consultants). "Jeff Heckler has stood up to ExxonMobil and the other Longhorn Partners, and he'll stand up for you, too," Mauro says.

Meanwhile, Sonleitner can lay claim to the coveted Central Labor Council endorsement, a much-sought-after vote that has eluded her in the past.

In other commissioner races, Pct. 3 Republican candidate Ira Yates is trying to outdo frontrunner Gerald Daugherty in roadside presence. Daugherty may have his giant signs staked on every well-traveled roadway, but Yates -- dressed in a suit and a cowboy hat -- has been making personal appearances along these same roads, waving to early morning commuters. A sign on the back of his pickup explains that he's a Hill County Republican with a vision. At 6am Wednesday morning, Yates stood alongside RM 2222 near Jester Blvd. and waved to drivers on their way to work. "It's my message-delivery system," Yates says. Acknowledging the difficulties in trying to crack the GOP establishment, Yates says he's trying to connect with regular folk. "It's really nice when the sun comes up, and you can see inside the cars, and people are smiling and waving back at you."

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