Fundraiser for Pat Crow

The woman who orchestrated scores of progressive political campaigns now needs your help

Pat Crow, who rode herd over Gus Garcia's 1997 campaign for City Council
Pat Crow, who rode herd over Gus Garcia's 1997 campaign for City Council (Photo by Alan Pogue)

On Monday, Feb. 23, current and past Democratic officeholders in Austin will pay homage to Pat Crow, a veteran political consultant who has built an impeccable record of running successful campaigns and helping novice candidates work through their fear of asking people for money.

This election year, however, Crow is recovering from a stroke she suffered last July during heart bypass surgery. Like many independent consultants whose paychecks are sporadic, Crow doesn't have private health insurance to defray the mounting costs of her ongoing medical care. A former financial planner for IBM, she's a woman of modest means, having lived the feast-or-famine life of a campaign manager since picking up her first political gig in 1982. Since she never demanded big bucks from her candidates, Crow's friends and family are now calling in her chips, and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, state Sen. Kirk Watson, and other party stalwarts have stepped up to host a Mardi Gras-style fundraiser that's expected to draw a who's who of local progressives, public officials, and political aspirants.

"I don't think there's an elected official in Austin who doesn't want to play some kind of role in this," said Crow's sister, Barbara Rush, herself a longtime campaign hand and currently a policy adviser to City Council Mem­ber Laura Morrison. As part of the entertainment, Rush said political media man Dean Rindy has produced a video of friends and officials doing their best impersonations of Crow. A short, sturdy woman of considerable pluck and a distinct voice – imagine Marge Simpson as a brutally honest drill sergeant – Crow offers a wealth of comedy material.

Rush credits Austin Speech Labs, where Crow receives intensive therapy three days a week, for her sister's remarkable comeback. The stroke occurred in the left temporal and frontal lobes of the brain, which affected her cognitive skills and memory. Now Crow is nearly back to her old self, keeping an eye (and ear) on local political rumblings, socializing, cracking (irreverent) jokes, and making plans to attend her annual movie marathon indulgence at the South by Southwest Film Festival. "Her goal is to live independently," Rush said. "So we're hoping to get the medical bills paid off so she can get to that point."

Pat Crow's Mardi Gras fundraiser is Monday, Feb. 23, 5:30-8:30pm, at the Austin Moose Lodge No. 1735, 2103 E.M. Franklin. For more info or to make an online donation, go to

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