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Strayhorn takes fundraising lead in Mayoral race

Friday, January 16, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Candidates for the May 9 Austin City Council and Mayor’s race have reached their first campaign milestone – the deadline for filing campaign finance reports covering fundraising through Dec. 31. The big money, so far, is the Mayor’s race, where Carol Keeton Strayhorn has a more than two-to-one advantage over Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken, with Council Member Lee Leffingwell just getting started.


On Strayhorn’s behalf, Carole for Austin Political Action Committee reports raising more than $41,000 and very few expenditures.


Contributions to the PAC come mostly from attorneys, real estate brokers or developers, and business owners, with some state employees also on the list of donors. Attorney Roy Minton, several of his relatives, and several employees of his law firm each donated the maximum of $350. Attorneys Harry Akin, Roger Borgelt, and Frank Calhoun also donated.


Automobile dealers Louis Henna, Jr. and Rox Covert both contributed $350. Former Council Member Lowell Lebermann donated the maximum amount, as did several other people associated with CenTex Beverage, where Lebermann serves as Chairman.


Strayhorn also received significant backing from the real estate sector including Jet Bartlett (a former President of the Austin Commercial Real Estate Society), Vaughn Brock, and Patsy Wimmer.


There are also a handful of names on the donor list that will be familiar to those tracking the local political scene, including former Travis County Sheriff’s candidate Duane McNeill and Sixth Street business owner Bob Woody.


McCracken has raised a respectable $17,000 since filing his paperwork to run for Mayor in early December. So far, some of the major contributors to McCracken’s campaign are coming from the downtown business community. Gary Farmer, Tim Taylor, John Rosato and Larry Warshaw each contributed the maximum amount. McCracken also has contributions from parks supporter Jeb Boyt, LBJ School of Public Affairs Professor Terrell Blodgett, and former CTRMA Board Member Johanna Zmud.


When Strayhorn was State Comptroller, her office produced a special report on the CTRMA in which she called for Zmud to step down from the board because of her position as part-owner of a business which contracted with the Texas Department of Transportation. The Comptroller’s news release in 2005 referred to that as “an apparent violation of the Texas Transportation Code.” However, the Texas Attorney General never ruled that Zmud had violated any state regulations and the Travis County District Attorney’s Office never pursued any charges against Zmud. She announced her decision to step down from the board in June of 2006, more than a year after Strayhorn’s report.


Leffingwell shows a balance of approximately $6,500 in his campaign account left over from his successful re-election campaign in 2008. The Draft Lee Leffingwell for Mayor PAC shows contributions of $1,650, mostly from the founders of the group.


Unknown candidate Josiah Ingalls filed a report showing no funds collected and no expenditures.


Riley ahead of challengers for Place 1 campaign funds


Three candidates have filed to run for Council Member Lee Leffingwell’s Place 1 seat on the assumption that he would run for Mayor.

The trio includes attorney Chris Riley, former Planning Commissioner Perla Cavazos and attorney Rick Cofer.

In the filing for contributions through Dec. 31, Riley leads the pack, having raised about $26,000. In a release on Thursday, Riley said he has a list of more than 350 supporters who have signed on to his campaign. He said his support comes from small business owners, artists and activists, as well as several members of city boards and commissions.

Cavazos, who quit her job at the Legislature to run, has collected just over $18,000 from close to 200 donors, also including a number of city Board and Commission members, a couple of former state representatives and current South Austin Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.

Cofer, a Democratic Party activist and member of the Solid Waste Advisory Commission, has raised just over $15,000.  Cofer’s support comes from a mix of Democratic activists, and board and commission members and more than 40 non-Austin residents.

Running unopposed for Place 5, LBJ School instructor Bill Spelman has raised slightly more than $11,000. Incumbent Mike Martinez, also running unopposed, has raised $22,500. Council Member Sheryl Cole has raised $28,000 to run again for her Place 6 seat. Sam Osemene has announced his intention to run for that seat but did not file a report on Thursday.

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