Election Ticker: Don’t Listen to Us!

Midterm coverage, from the folks you love to hate


Chronicle reporter Nina Hernandez spotted Dem attorney general candidate Justin Nelson and his baby voting at the Fiesta Mart on 38th Street. (Photo by Nina Hernandez)

Well, our endorsements are out, and wouldn't you know, we got every one of them wrong! The Chronicle got more hate mail this week than we did after putting an Armed White Male mask on the cover last Halloween, with many of the letters coming from the candidates (and their cohorts) we chose to not endorse. Some of those letters have been published in this week's issue (with more online, where you'll also find the latest club endorsements and campaign-finance info). Go there if you'd like to see what's so great about the overlooked local candidates – and what's so terrible about our News staff...

Long Lines at Grocery Stores: To buy water and to vote; as Travis Co. broke early voting records, about a third of the in-person votes through Tuesday were cast at Randalls and Fiesta Mart stores. The busiest locations, though, were Ben Hur Shrine Center, UT's Flawn Academic Center, and ACC Highland. The county's two-day total surpasses the first nine days of in-person early voting in 2014's midterms. Out of Texas' 30 largest counties, the highest turnout percentage is in Jefferson (Beaumont), which has already topped 19%, compared to 10.7% in Travis and a mere 7.6% in Bexar and 7.8% in Harris (where early voting sites are only open during business hours)...

Keeping Austin Troxclair? District 8 Council Mem­ber Ellen Troxclair's designated successor – Frank Ward – is running under the slogan, "Keep Austin Ward," although "Keepin' It Troxclair" might be more to the point, since Ward makes it clear he hopes to maintain her tax- and city-bashing legacy. Ward lists a single endorsement on his web page – that of the Travis County Republican Party – but he's hoping his three liberal opponents (Paige Ellis, Bobby Levinski, and Rich DePalma) will divide their votes and allow him to sneak onto the dais, or at least into a run-off, as the sole surviving Republican. Troxclair is also promoting Proposition K, the "efficiency audit" push funded primarily by GOP and "dark money" sources. Promises Troxclair: Ward "will carry on the work that I started"...

Houston From the Right: Speaking of Prop K, its supporters have released an "East Austin supports Prop K" video featuring outgoing D1 Council Member Ora Houston touting the advantages of "transparency." Also appearing in the ad are restaurateur Hoover Alexander, Tori Moreland (of the failed and not entirely legal 2016 attempt to recall CM Ann Kitchen), Windsor Park neighborhood leader Arthur Turner, Houston aide Genoveva Rodriguez (under her first name only), and Prop K funder and GOP operative Chris Covo ("Strange Bedfellows, Stranger Politics," Aug. 10). This isn't the first time Houston has provided "Eastside" political cover for a right-wing effort – in 2015, she joined former CM Don Zimmerman's campaign against the Travis County Civil Courthouse, helping to push the proposition to a narrow defeat...

Dispatches From Planet Prop: Campaign ads abound as we enter the closing weeks. But one in last week's Chronicle caught our eye: Planet K's full-pager urging voters to vote yes on Propositions D, J, and K. At a glance, it seems like an interesting set. Prop D would approve $184 million in funding for flood mitigation, open space, and water quality protection. Prop J calls for a vote on any comprehensive land use code revision (like CodeNEXT). And Prop K calls for an outside audit of the entire city's operations. We called Planet K owner Michael Kleinman, and he assured us there's a rhyme to his reasoning: Kleinman supports Prop D because of his successful federal lawsuit against the city over an environmental regulation (a wayward sandbar), which proved to him that Prop K is necessary to deal with city inefficiencies. (He accuses city staff of being "incompetent liars.") As for Prop J, Kleinman believes the city should err on the side of giving voters more input and not less. The fiery libertarian also expressed disappointment in the Chronicle's endorsements, specifically our opposition to Props J and K. Somewhat mysteriously, the day after that conversation, a "Vote Yes on Prop K" sign, paid for by a PAC funded in part by Kleinman, found its way onto the Chronicle's front lawn. We appreciate the effort...

Slapped Down by His Hometown Paper: The Texas daily that endorsed Mitt Romney, both Bushes, and Ted Cruz in 2012 is now eschewing the GOP senator for Beto O'Rourke. The Houston Chronicle's endorsement doubles as a scathing editorial on the incumbent, who the editorial board says has shown "little interest" in actually representing the people of Texas. "For Cruz, public office is a private quest; the needs of his constituents are secondary," the paper writes. Houston's Chron also endorsed Democrat Mike Collier for lieutenant governor over Dan Patrick. It's not every day this liberal alt-weekly and the state's biggest daily agree, but here we are...

Law and Order: The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas started issuing endorsements to state law enforcement officials on Sunday, and there are a few worth noting. Left off the list are Republican incumbents Dan Patrick and Ted Cruz, though CLEAT's executive board, which handles the endorsements, declined to endorse Mike Collier and Beto O'Rourke either. Also of note: The board chose to endorse GOP incumbent Ken Paxton for attorney general. Asked why the law-enforcement-loving union has chosen to endorse an official who's facing criminal indictment for securities fraud, Executive Director Charley Wilkison referred to his old record. "As a House and Senate member, Paxton supported stopping taxpayers' funding of labor unions through secret grants," he said. "That's how we came to support him since we do not accept public money, aren't conflicted, and are only funded by our dues-paying members." Wilkison doesn't sit on the executive board, but on the lite guv and U.S. senator non-endorsements, he said of the board, "It's their organization and their decision"...

S.A.L.E.s Pitch: IndyAustin came out swinging this week against Mayor "Steve Adler's Land Empire (S.A.L.E.)." The press/web/digital blitz is anchored by a deep-ish dive, complete with map, into Adler's real estate holdings and the clients of the property-management firm owned by his spouse Diane Land. IndyAustin leader Linda Curtis fears "the real estate industry's flood of influence on City Hall," but it's been well-known since his 2014 run that the mayor is a) rich, b) involved in the industry, and c) married to a woman who is also. IndyAustin points specifically to Adler's investment in Riverside Resources, whose E. Ben White property contains leased office space for various city departments. The group points out that Adler did not recuse himself from all the votes to approve those leases, but has not shared evidence that Adler influenced either the procurement process or the votes of his colleagues. IndyAustin also blasts the mayor for his supposed promise to only serve one term, which the mayor flatly denies, though Curtis says, "Ask anyone who was around then"...

Oops! Not That Guy: The Travis County Repub­lic­an Party may not be taking the Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace race entirely seriously. The group flier they're distributing around town includes their candidate, Chris Soileau – but features the photo of an entirely different Christopher Soileau, a Pasadena attorney; and until we asked about it, the Party's website featured the same photo. Asked about the confusion, TCRP spokesman Andy Hogue responded with thanks, saying, "I only met [Soileau] for the first time this past Saturday and wondered if it was perhaps an older photo." TCRP Chair Matt Mackowiak said since they "caught it early," only 250 of the incorrect fliers were distributed. Perhaps the TCRP also should check whether Soileau – who is challenging incumbent Dem Randall Slagle – has filed his legally required campaign finance reports...

Beto-Man Mural: If you still can't get enough O'Rourke, artist Chris Rogers (of the embattled 12th & Chicon mural) has completed a Superman-style mural of the candidate between Cesar Chavez and E. Second streets, in an alley directly off Waller Street. As Rogers describes it, "The mural features a large portrait of Congressman Beto O'Rourke, characterized as a superhero revealing a 'B' emblem on his undershirt with a Texas flag waving behind him in a cape-like fashion and a backlit downtown Austin off to his peripheral, where the same 'B' emblem can be seen projected into the night sky emanating from the Frost Bank tower." He added his theme for the mural: "Out of the darkness comes the light." Recent photos of the mural are at fb.com/betomuraleastaustin. See more on Rogers at www.chrisrogersartist.com...

Leave It to Esther's: Austin treasure Esther's Follies has gone viral with a "Leader of the Pack" parody tribute to the Beto O'Rourke campaign: "Beto does it ... without a Super PAC." A trio of would-be Shangri-Las emote about their hero ("Is she really going door-to-door for him?") on what appears to be a Mueller-neighborhood set, celebrating "JFK with a $10 haircut," and taking jabs at "dark money," Mitch McConnell, and the candidate's long odds. "Once you go Beto, you're never going back." Find it on the Esther's Follies Facebook page, or YouTube...

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

November 2018 Election, endorsements, Ellen Troxclair, Frank Ward, Proposition J, Proposition K, Ora Houston, Michael Kleinman, Beto O'Rourke, Ted Cruz, Mike Collier, Dan Patrick, CLEAT, Ken Paxton, Charley Wilkison, Christopher Soileau, IndyAustin, Linda Curtis

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