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Leffingwell, Riley take strong lead in Early Voting

Saturday, May 9, 2009 by Austin Monitor

Early voting results for the City of Austin Municipal Elections show that Council Member Lee Leffingwell has a taken commanding lead in the Mayor’s race, with 47 percent, or 13,248 votes. Two challengers, Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken and former Mayor and State Comptroller Carol Keeton Strayhorn are in what could turn out to be a tight race for a possible spot in a runoff. McCracken had 27 percent, or 7,688 votes, to Strayhorn’s 21 percent, with 5,988 votes


Leffingwell’s consultant, Mark Nathan, said he thought that his candidate had a good chance to take the election without a runoff.


In the only other race that was strongly contested, former Planning Commissioner Chris Riley led Perla Cavasos, also a former Planning Commissioner, in a special election for  the seat vacated by Leffingwell to run for mayor. In early voting, Riley polled 67 percent, or 17,334 votes, to Cavasos’ 33 percent, with 8,674 votes.  His election is now pretty much a foregone conclusion.


Turnout in the early voting was light, with slightly more than six percent of Travis County’s 526,187 voters casting ballots. Election officials were expecting a total of about 60,000 votes in Saturday’s election.


Consultant Kelly Fero, who was not working for any of the candidates, said early in the evening said the overall turnout would likely be low.


“I don’t think it (the turnout) is going to be extra low,” he said. “But it’s not going to be gang busters either. (County Clerk) Dana (DeBeauvoir) predicted between 10 and 12 percent. I think it may be just a shade under 10.”


Fero added, “I think he’s very close,” he said. “If he had gotten maybe 40 percent going into today I think he would win the runoff regardless of who was in it with him, but I think he’s going to be real close to 50 percent.”


Political analyst Peck Young said on News 8 Austin that the city’s average voter will favor Leffingwell.


“The profile of the average city voter is over 55 and that’s another edge for Lee,” he said. “Brewster McCracken has made a calculated effort to go after the younger voter, and that was a gamble. The polls showed it didn’t give him the momentum he had hoped for, at least in the early vote.”


Other races that were not expected to be contested were Place 2, with incumbent Council Member Mike Martinez getting 85 percent of the votes, or 21,419, to challenger Jose Quintero’s 15 percent, with 3,774 votes;  Place 5, with former Council Member and LBJ School professor Bill Spelman running unopposed with 21,308 votes; and in Place 6, where incumbent Council Member Sheryl Cole had 84 percent, with 21,019 votes to  challenger Sam Osemene’s 16 percent, with 4,039 votes.

Also running in the Mayor’s race are David Buttross with 3 percent, or 952 votes and Josiah Ingalls with less than 1 percent at 211 votes.

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