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Adler takes big money lead over Martinez, Cole in Mayor’s race

Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Jo Clifton

Months before the mayoral field was set, those who opine on such things predicted candidates for Mayor would spend big money on the race. With four months to go, that only seems true for one candidate, attorney Steve Adler.

Adler, who has never run for public office before, has to overcome the hurdle of being an unknown running against two incumbents with significant name ID. So far, he has raised $366,000 and spent more than $268,000. He has also loaned his campaign $194,000.

Adler’s opponents do not even come close to that dollar amount and Adler’s campaign team points to the fact that he has received money from 1,444 donors, bringing in “the most raised in a city election under current campaign laws.” Adler finance director Laura Hernandez noted that the campaign “averaged 27 donors a day.”

So far, Adler’s campaign has spent more than $268,000 as of June 30. Consultants at GNI Strategies led by Katie Naranjo received nearly $55,000 and David Butts $8,000. Of course, the Adler campaign started several months before those of his opponents, Council Members Mike Martinez and Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole.

Jim Wick, Adler’s campaign manager, explains how this race is significantly different from any of the spring elections for Mayor. He noted that there is “a potential for five times as many voters as before. It’s going to take some money to overcome two eight-year incumbents who have sat on the dais that long.”

Unlike recent past elections, he said, there may be 200-250,000 voters. When all is said and done, he said, “It may cost as much as $1 million.”

Martinez, who is serving his third term, reported raising more than $162,000 from 717 contributors. He had spent less than $55,000 at the end of the June 30 cutoff for the report. A former president of the Austin firefighters union, Martinez has significant support from union figures, including three AFSCME leaders, as well as activists like Robin Rather, Joe and Janis Pinnelli and attorneys Dave and Dan Richards.

Matt Parkerson, Martinez’ campaign manager, noted that with his candidate’s higher name recognition, he did not have to spend as much money but could spend more time “knocking on doors for Mike.”

Cole, who announced and started fundraising later than the other two, raised nearly $94,000 and spent only $6,700. Neither Cole nor Martinez loaned money to their campaign, although Cole and her husband did donate $350 apiece.

James Aldrete, Cole’s campaign consultant, said, “Every campaign’s got to figure out how much they need and how they’re going to spend it.” He described the Cole campaign as exercising “incredibly disciplined spending with lots of cash on hand…it doesn’t take a whole machine to raise the money.”

He added, “We think Sheryl comes in with a lot of advantages that don’t require building a fundraising machine.”

There are three other candidates in the race, Nicolas Lucier, Todd Phelps and Randall Stephens. Stephens reported raising and spending $546.69. Lucier reported that he had neither collected nor spent money. Further, he vowed to take no contributions “to remind Austinites, and the population at large, that Statesmanship, is not about the money, and politicians, are not welcome in any of the representative bodies in Texas.”

Phelps’ report was unavailable as of press time.

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