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Leffingwell endorses Adler in mayor’s race

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 by Jo Clifton

After voting, Mayor Lee Leffingwell walked out of City Hall on Monday and announced to the media that he was proud to have voted for mayoral candidate Steve Adler, who is running against Leffingwell’s Council colleagues Mike Martinez and Sheryl Cole.

Leffingwell had previously been officially neutral. But Monday he said he didn’t make the decision at the spur of the moment. “I will say that a big motivating factor was the introduction of the super PACs” into the race, he said.

Last week, as the Monitor reported, people working for a labor political action committee called South Forward IE PAC made phone calls to Austin residents to try to persuade voters not to vote for Adler. The PAC is based in South Carolina. Some of the callers admitted that they were working for the PAC, while others refused to say whom they were working for.

No direct connection could be found between the PAC and any candidate. But the South Forward IE PAC received $10,000 from the Southwest Laborers’ District Council PAC, according to a recent Federal Election Commission report. The Southwest Laborers’ District Council is an affiliate body of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which endorsed Martinez.

The local representative for the Laborers’ International Union did not return a call seeking comment.

Both the Martinez campaign and the Cole campaign have denied that they had any knowledge of or coordination with the PAC.

“Mayor Leffingwell’s endorsement does not change the fact that Steve Adler has a troubling environmental record, helped pollute Barton Springs and plans to give tax breaks to the wealthiest residents and force middle-class renters to pay more,” Martinez said.  “I will continue to focus on middle-class families, and I am honored that former Mayor Will Wynn, former Mayor Gus Garcia, Austin firefighters, Clean Water Action, Austin EMS Association, the Central Labor Council, Willie Nelson and Austinites across our city have joined me in my fight against special interests at City Hall.”

The Cole campaign sent out the following statement: “With the endorsement of Lee Leffingwell, Steve Adler’s ‘New Way Forward’ is looking a lot like the ‘Same Way Forward.’ Bad poll numbers have a way of convincing politicians to change course.”

Cole’s statement continued: “Lee, of course, is entitled to endorse who ever he likes, even if it is in support of the most vocal critic of his leadership on the rail bonds. But what Steve and Lee don’t get is that the days of the Gentlemen’s Agreement in Austin are over, and with it, the ability of a handful of political insiders to direct the course of Austin’s future.”

The other five mayoral candidates did not comment on Leffingwell’s endorsement.

 

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