I met District 8 candidate Paige Ellis for the first time in-person yesterday at City Hall. She had just filed her pre-runoff campaign finance report. She seemed happy and confident entering the final week of the campaign. The report suggests she has reason to be.
After only raising $16,875 during the general election campaign (and finishing ahead of three better-funded candidates), Ellis raised $59,240 in November, way ahead of her conservative opponent, Frank Ward, who raised $28,790. Part of the disparity is likely due to the fact that Ward already raised a bunch of money early on and conservative donors have already maxed out to him, while Ellis is probably now picking up donors who supported two of the other liberal candidates in the general election. And it’s important to remember that the spending that the police union is doing on Ward’s behalf more than makes up for the gap. And the Austin Board of Realtors (ABoR) is also spending money in the race, although it’s not clear how much (I’ll get into that later today).
But the real fundraising champ is Pio Renteria. The incumbent east side Council member raised $89,895 for the rematch against his sister, Susana Almanza, who raised $22,558. ABoR is also supporting Renteria, although again, it’s not clear how much. Then there’s Austinites for Affordability, a group linked to lobbyist Mark Littlefield, that is spending on behalf of Renteria. It spent $14,300 over the past month –– I’m not sure if all of that money went to support Pio, but that’s the only candidate that the report says the committee is supporting. Almanza is getting some support from People’s PAC, a group funded by a few of the usual suspects from the neighborhood preservationist clique: Fred Lewis, Mike Hebert, Kirk Mitchell, Mike Lavigne, Barbara MacArthur, Jeff Jack. In the past month they spent $4,100 to oppose Renteria.
In District 1 Natasha Harper-Madison raised $41,170 and Mariana Salazar raised $21,396. Harper-Madison is also getting some support from ABoR (again, not clear how much).
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Correction: This post has been updated. I incorrectly wrote that Paige Ellis had raised $11k in the general election campaign. It was $16.8k.