Election Ticker: Travis Turning Out

Voter registration deadlines come and gone

Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector/Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant holds up 2,500 voter registration cards collected from 7am to 2pm at a pop-up tent at the county office on Airport on Tuesday, Oct. 8. (photo by John Anderson)

An estimated 93% of eligible voters in Travis County are registered to vote – a modern-day record, says Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector/Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant. Roughly 70,000 new voters have registered, with about 1,500 new applicants a day, making it seem closer to a presidential year turnout rather than a midterm…

The Proposition K campaign (i.e., supporting the "independent efficiency audit" of city operations) has thus far declined to disclose the contributors of the $137,000 that underwrote its ballot petition campaign (see "Buck Wood," below). But the campaign's successor PAC – "Vote Yes on Prop K" – filed a campaign finance report Sept. 28, listing $13,000 in contributions, several in fairly high-dollar amounts (city limits on candidate contributions do not apply to issue campaigns). The headline numbers: $5,000 from longtime Road Warrior and Austin critic Jim Skaggs; another $5,000 from Planet K tycoon Michael Kleinman; an unsurprising $500 from Council Member Ellen Troxclair and husband Caleb; $500 from GOP activist Christopher Covo; $1,000 from business consulting firm VCFO; and $1,000 from San Diego-based perennial presidential, senatorial, etc. candidate Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente. "Vote Yes" reports spending $9,850 on advertising, printing, and office expenses…

Mayor Steve Adler's re-election campaign announced Tuesday that he has raised more than $714,000 from more than 3,000 individual donors, or "already … more individual donors than … during the 2014 general election." (Adler also lists outstanding loans carried over from 2014 of $449,000.) For the most recent period (July 1-Sept. 27), Adler reported contributions of $140,000, and cash-on-hand of more than $205,000. During the same period (July through September), challenger Laura Morri­son reported $25,500 in contributions, and cash-on-hand (including loans) of $39,000. Overall, Morrison has raised about $118,000

Morrison announced the support on Wednesday of outgoing Council Member Ora Houston, which should come as no surprise…

Influence Texas and Texans for Public Justice announced the release last week of Influence Texas OS, an "open source web app" providing campaign finance and voting records of state politicians, "enabling taxpayers to track the influence of money in politics." The app began as a project last summer at ATX Hack for Change, and is also supported by Open Austin, a volunteer organization supporting civic application development. The app uses campaign finance records by TPJ, and developers say that the current version reflects the most recent election cycle, while the next iteration – Influence Texas PRO – "will enable users to source donations by industry and match those donations to legislation across multiple election cycles." Access the app at app.influencetexas.com

The "Let Us Vote Austin" PAC in support of Proposition J, which would require a lengthy delay and citywide vote on any future "comprehensive" rewrite of Austin's land use code, filed its campaign finance report Oct. 5. The PAC reported $16,500 in contributions, and $11,900 in expenditures. Those totals reflect an intriguing symmetry: $10,000 of "in-kind" contribution from and $10,000 in expenditure to Reagan National Advertising, the billboard company that largely underwrote the anti-CodeNEXT petition campaign that initiated the ballot proposition (along with two other petitions, one concerning weakening Austin's billboard regulations, that didn't succeed). The PAC's other spending was for staff assistance ($1,150) and Facebook advertising ($750); other contributions came from commercial Realtor-activist Brian Rodgers ($5,000), political consultant George Shipley ($1,000), and business consultant William Spiesman ($500). Expect a month of major billboardism…

Austin native and "loyal" Republican voter Scott Milder, who ran against Lt. Gov Dan Patrick in the GOP primary in March, is now backing Patrick's Democratic opponent, Mike Collier. Rather than put his weight on the party line, as candidates typically do, Milder laments the thought of a Patrick re-election, saying the lite guv is "holding us all hostage to the political whims of a few billionaires who do not want to pay taxes and who do not want to educate the wonderful youth." He points to Patrick's ­affinity for state control over local governance, and devoting ample time to anti-LGBTQ legislation. Meanwhile, Milder describes Collier as a "rational and reasonable" Texan who won't devolve his party into radical, counter-conservative culture wars. One of the rare times recently that we're happy to endorse a Republican's wise words…

ACC Place 9 candidate Lora Weber and her husband selling their Drummer Boy Ice Cream at a Texas fort depicting the 1870s. (courtesy of Lora Weber)

About six times a year, Austin Community College Place 9 Board of Trustees candidate Lora Weber and her husband sell ice cream to Union and Confederate soldiers. They've participated in Civil War re-enactments staged throughout Texas for the past 20 years, where they play neutral "sutlers" selling their Drummer Boy Ice Cream from a period-designed tent. Weber said she enjoys the "living history" aspect of the re-enactments and argued that her participation could even be an asset if elected to the ACC board. "I probably have a better understanding of Civil War history than most people," she said. "If we had to weigh in on the subject, I could bring an informed perspective." Lest anyone be confused about where she stands on the Lost Cause, Weber said: "This is not a 'Confederates in the attic' situation. The cause of the war was slavery."…

Reedy Spigner, the native East Austinite and state employee running for City Council in District 1, is working overtime to gain traction against the establishment-backed candidates in his race. Last week, supporter and longtime rabble-rouser Jim Harrington chided the Statesman for referring to Spigner, whose family helped found the Black Austin Demo­crats, as a "lesser-known" candidate, and demanded more balanced coverage. The campaign followed that up Monday with a Fox 7 interview on Spigner's background and upbringing. Vincent Harding supporter and Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder told us he believes Spigner's problem is less unfair coverage and more the fact that he entered the race well after community leaders had begun to throw their support to other candidates…

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz declined an offer to participate in a CNN town hall debate in McAllen with opponent Beto O'Rourke, so CNN's just going to air a full hour of Beto-mania instead. On that note: Austin filmmaker Richard Linklater is behind a series of attack ads against Cruz. The first calls out the senator's proclaimed toughness after he cozied up to Trump despite the president's barrage of insults toward him and his family. See "Is Ted Cruz Really Texas Tough?" online…

This story has been updated to accurately reflect the time period depicted in the photograph of Lora Weber and her husband.

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November 2018 election, Bruce Elfant, Steve Adler, Ora Houston, Laura Morrison, Reedy Spigner, Lora Weber

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