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Possible candidate Martin spends $50K exploring run for mayor

Thursday, January 16, 2014 by Jo Clifton

Presumptive mayoral candidate Patsy Woods Martin has spent more than $50,000 in exploring a run for mayor of Austin next November, according to a campaign finance report filed Wednesday. While candidates are prohibited from raising money prior to six months before their election, they are allowed to explore a candidacy and spend their own money.


Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Mike Martinez, two likely opponents in the race, have spent small amounts from their campaign/officeholder accounts. Two other non-incumbent candidates, attorney Steve Adler and Bill McClellan, the head of Family Eldercare, are also reported to be considering the race but neither have filed a designation of treasurer or a report on spending.


Since Cole and Martinez already are in office with officeholder accounts, they were also required to file reports by Wednesday with the City Clerk. Martin designated herself as her own campaign treasurer in November. She has paid Baselice & Associates nearly $42,000 for polling.


Martin is the founder of the local non-profit I Live Here, I Give Here. One of her consultants, Robert Jones with GNI Strategies, said via email, “Patsy is a chemist by training and a social entrepreneur and consensus builder at heart so she has approached this process in a thoughtful, analytical way including using her own resources to gather the best data possible.” (Jones is on the board of directors of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, which owns the Austin Monitor.)

Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who loaned himself $100,000 for his 2009 race, predicted, “It will be a big city campaign…a high spending campaign.” Asked how much the office pays, Leffingwell said he thought it was about $72,000.


Peck Young, director of the Center for Public Policy and Political Studies at Austin Community College, said he plans to support Martin. Asked about Martin’s large expenditure, Young said, “I think it’s very clear from that level of financial  commitment that she is willing to spend what she needs to run a viable campaign. I also think some other candidates in the not too distant future will start spending some substantial amounts of money.”


He noted that the incumbents do not need to spend as much money early, but added, “I suspect all of them will be commissioning pollsters because this is the time of year” to do that.


Cole reports that she spent $4,715 during the six months since July and has on hand $4,919. Most of her expenditures were political contributions and to the Democratic Party. She gave $150 to Democrat Wendy Davis, who is running for Governor.


Martinez, also a Democrat, spent about $6,600 and has about $3,400 on hand. He gave $500 to Mendez Middle School and to various other organizations, including PODER, and to various groups such as the NAACP and the Austin Police Association for advertising. Martinez’ expenditures seem more geared to running for office, with many small donations for ads.

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