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Spelman raises twice as much as most viable opponent

Friday, April 13, 2012 by Josh Rosenblatt

Candidates for City Council turned in their campaign finance reports from the first three months of 2012 yesterday, and if it’s true that the best way to determine who’s going to win a political contest is to count the money, then Place 5 is definitely shaping up to be a two-man race.

Council Member Bill Spelman is still way out in front of the field, but right-leaning insurgent Dominic Chavez may be a bit close for the incumbent’s comfort.

That’s not the case, according to Spelman Campaign Manager Jim Wick, who told In Fact Daily that the he feels “pretty comfortable” with the lead his team has built up in the money race. The Spelman campaign reported just over $40,000 in total contributions between Jan. 1 and April 2. Chavez, meanwhile, reported $18,670 over the same period. Tina Cannon is a distant third, with $4,940 (which, by the way, is $4,940 more than any of the other candidates in the Place 5 race – John Duffy, Robert “Bo” Prudente, David Yepez Conley — pulled in. Candidate John Rubine’s campaign finance report was not available Thursday night.)

“We’re well ahead of the competition,” said Wick. “There’s still work to do, but we’re not concerned. We have enough to get the message out.”

Wick also pointed out that Spelman still had $25,500 left over from the $31,460 his campaign took in between Nov. 14 and Dec. 31, 2011. The Chavez campaign, which got off to a later start, collected no contributions prior to Jan. 1, nor did the Cannon campaign.

“We came in right where we thought it would be,” Wick said.

Spelman managed to maintain his comfortable monetary lead despite the fact that his campaign listed no bundlers – individuals who solicit and obtain contributions from five or more contributors on behalf of a candidate. The Chavez campaign, meanwhile, listed one bundler, Richard E. Anderson, president of commercial real estate firm Hill Partners Inc.

In August of last year, Anderson contributed $2,500 to the campaign of Texas Governor and unsuccessful presidential hopeful Rick Perry.

Wick said he was proud of the campaign for not using bundlers during this most recent reporting period, though he admitted it was not by design.

“Not using bundlers is good for transparency and accountability,” Wick said. “But it wasn’t that we said ‘no’ to any bundlers; it just worked out that way.”

Instead, Spelman’s campaign got its money from more than 150 contributors, including former Council Member Jennifer Kim; the woman Kim beat for that seat, Margot Clark; Mary Ingle, 1st vice-president of the Austin Neighborhoods Council, which voted last week to make no endorsement in the Place 5 race; and former communications director for Mayor Lee Leffingwell Matt Curtis, who is now the director of government relations at HomeAway Vacation Rentals.

Chavez, meanwhile, received individual contributions from just under 50 donors, including Animal Advisory Commission Member Larry Tucker, former Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty, and Public Safety Commission Member Mike Levy. Levy and Chavez filed a lawsuit (along with Alfred Stanley) against Austin last April alleging the city’s historic preservation program was illegal because it didn’t require applicants to demonstrate the need for tax abatements.

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