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Candidates dip into own pockets to run for City Council

Monday, May 5, 2008 by Mark Richardson

If you want to run for Austin City Council, it certainly helps to have deep pockets. Candidates in two of the three races have had to reach into their own bank accounts to stay competitive, while most of the candidates likely to finish first or second in votes have raised six-figure sums to run for office.


City ordinance prevent candidates from collecting more than $300 from an individual or $600 from a couple.


As of the Friday reporting deadline, the 12 candidates for Council had collected about $900,000 in contributions since last November. Friday was the deadline to report contributions for the month of April.


Place 4 Candidate Cid Galindo’s campaign report indicates he collected $50,030, but that number seems to be an error since Galindo loaned his campaign $20,000 on April 21 and $30,000 on 4/29. The report also shows several thousand dollars more in contributions, although In Fact Daily did not tally the 54 pages of contributions and expenditures. His previous total was around $90,000.


Galindo had previously loaned his campaign $10,000 and opponent Laura Morrison has tapped her personal funds to the tune of $40,000. Several other candidates have made smaller loans to their campaigns.


Morrison reported $21,491 in April for a total of $100,472 since November, and Place 4 candidate Robin Cravey raised $12,974 in April for a campaign total of $48,501.


Place 1 incumbent Lee Leffingwell is the top fundraiser to date, reporting a total of $192,065 since November. He had spent $90,000 and maintained about $42,000 as of last Wednesday. Leffingwell is seen as a probable candidate for Mayor next year although he has backed off from talking about a future race.


In the hard-fought place 3 battle between incumbent Jennifer Kim and challenger Randi Shade, Kim has loaned her campaign $7,700 while Shade has chipped in $10,000 to her own cause.


But the biggest numbers may be showing up on candidates’ expenditure sheets  for television ad production and television time.


In Place 3, Kim has raised $35,990 in April and a total of $179,475 since November. Look for her to be a familiar face on your TV screen with a $50,000 media buy through Rindy Miller Media in late April. She still had more than $47,000 to spend as of Friday.


Shade raised $25,740 in April and $184,425 for the entire campaign. Shade also plans an extensive television ad campaign, making a $30,234 media buy through EnviroMedia in late April. Shade still has $39,333 left to spend.


Place 3 Challenger Ken Weiss raised $215 in April and had $74 left to spend as of Friday.


Place 4 candidates have also been writing big checks for television time and other campaign activities. Galindo spent more than $22,000 with Kelly Graphics for campaign signs and other materials in April, $15,000 with Opinion Strategies of San Marcos for television time, and $8,000 with Fredrick Polls. Galindo reported he had no more funds to spend—but clearly he could loan himself more money.


Morrison reported spending $40,000 with Rindy Miller Media for television time, and $5,000 with Opinion Analysts for polling. Morrison still has $28,231 in the bank for the final week.


Cravey’s only major expenses in April were campaign staff salaries. He reports having less than $3,000 on hand.


Other candidates in the Place 4 race include Jennifer Gale, who reported $25 in contribution in April and $81 on hand, and Ken Vasseau and Sam Osemene, both of whom reported no contributions and no cash on hand.


In Place 1, expect to see a lot of incumbent Leffingwell on your television. He reports raising $23,690 in April to bring his campaign total to $192,065. Leffingwell has spent $7,300 with Bear Media for ad production and $60,000 with EnviroMedia for television time.


Challenger Jason Meeker raised less than $3,000 in April, and a total of $11,450 for the campaign. Meeker spent about $4,400 in April on campaign signs.


Place 1 challenger Allen Demling pulled in $390 in April contributions, and a total of $1,500 for the campaign.


Early voting continues through Tuesday and Election Day is on Saturday.

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