Down to the Wire
Brewster McCracken is wrapping up his campaign for City Council much the way he started it -- breathlessly excited, wanting to win so bad he can taste it. The Austin lawyer kicked off his second council bid a few months ago as the odds-on favorite to succeed Wynn, and in the seven-way race for Place 5, McCracken has reaped the biggest bucks, the biggest names on his supporters list, and the most endorsements.
But McCracken's closest rival, Margot Clarke, has gained considerable momentum in recent weeks, leading many observers to expect a run-off. The Statesman brushed Clarke off with barely a mention in endorsing McCracken, but the lifelong Austinite carries strong support from women and progressives -- a formidable combo in City Council elections. And Clarke's Austin-centric TV ad is winning high marks in campaign circles, mainly because it offers a refreshing break from the same-old, same-old TV spots of every other political season. The ad features local mainstays like Shudde Fath, Willie Mae Kirk, Evan Taniguchi (her campaign treasurer), and Maria Corbalan of Maria's Taco Express.
Meanwhile, another leading candidate, Carl Tepper, is campaigning like there's no tomorrow, albeit on a much more modest budget. As the lone openly GOP candidate in the race, Tepper hopes to appeal both to center-right voters and bike-and-ped advocates he's championed on the Urban Transportation Commission and thinks that crossover appeal could nudge him into a run-off against McCracken, who Tepper thinks is trying to be all things to all people. Like the other candidates, Tepper says he's targeting high-turnout precincts in the central city, northwest and southwest. Meanwhile, Scott Marks, still hampered by his late entry into the race, is making his name off the beaten path; he has reached out to the deaf community on the campaign trail, and he's the only Place 5 candidate with a Spanish-language Web site.
Like Wynn in the mayor's race, McCracken is bearing the brunt of criticism from the other candidates. Robert Singleton took him on with a "Brewster the Builder" letter he sent out last week, calling attention to McCracken's on-the-stump overtures to the real estate and pro-road crowd. And McCracken's association with developer Larry Paul Manley, who left the director's post at the Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs under questionable circumstances, has raised speculation about the two being in cahoots. Despite siding with his North University neighbors on the issue of regulating superduplexes, Manley is running afoul of residents in the Heritage neighborhood of West Austin, where he plans to replace historic cottages with an apartment project.