8:46 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

Lamar Smith: I Can Has Nomination?

Photo courtesy of Lamar Smith

Efforts by some Internet activists -- including I Can Has Cheezeburger? CEO Ben Huh -- to unseat the author of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act have fizzled. Austin Congressman Lamar Smith has trounced his two primary challengers, all but locking in the Republican nomination. 

With results still trickling in, Smith had secured 79 percent of the vote. Tea party activist Richard Mack had 13 percent and software engineer Richard Morgan had 8 percent. The Associated Press has declared Smith the winner.

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8:12 pm
Tue May 29, 2012

More Travis County Races to Call

Photo by Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

While the writing’s on the wall in the Travis County D.A.’s race, it appears that’s not the only county race where early voting tells the tale.

In the race for Travis County Sheriff, incumbent Greg Hamilton handily leads challenger John Sisson in early voting, 71% (11,825) to 29% (4,799).

Sisson tried to make an issue out of Hamilton’s participation in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions at the jail.

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2:31 pm
Thu April 12, 2012

Register This: Local Voter Registration Ends Today

A detail of a voter registration form.
Image courtesy Travis County

Austin’s Mayoral and City Council elections are just about a month away – and if you haven’t registered to vote, time is running out.

The last day to register to vote in Austin's May contests is this Thursday, April 12. You can find the voter registration form here, along with instructions where to mail the form. To register in person, visit the Travis County Clerk’s office, located at 5501 Airport Boulevard.

To check your registration status and verify that it’s current, click here. Need to make updates to your voter registration? Check out this page for more information.

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3:29 pm
Wed April 4, 2012

Getting Out the Vote in East Austin

Several organizations are hoping to see an voting increase in three East Austin precincts.
Photo by Tolly Moseley for KUT News

East Austin community groups are set to continue a local voter turnout program.

The East Austin Voter Mobilization Initiative, which describes itself as “the first-ever voter coalition in Austin comprised of Latino, African American, immigrant and civil rights organizations,” is kicking off its third year of voter  outreach and education.

The coalition’s goal is to raise voter turnout by 15 to 20 percent in three East Austin precincts – 123, 426, and 427.

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12:48 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Mayoral, City Council Forums Get Going

Council candidates face questions this weekend.
Photo courtesy flickr.com/herzogbr

For a city that doesn’t really turn out for local elections – try 13% of registered voters last mayoral contest – Austin sure hosts a bunch of local election forums.

There’s been a smattering of events already, but a slate of high-profile endorsement discussions and forums beginning this weekend reminds us that the mayoral and City Council election, scheduled May 12, will be here sooner than we think.

Here’s a list of forums occurring next week, with descriptions pulled from the event organizers. In the meantime, you can familiarize yourself with the 14 candidates vying for mayor and three council seats.

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City Council Elections
1:54 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Who Are These 14 People Running for City Council?

A detail from one of several City Council filings. A total of 14 names will appear on the May municipal ballot.
Image courtesy austintexas.gov

That title is slightly more than a rhetorical question, since the filing for City Council candidacies – closed yesterday at 5 p.m. – features more than a few political unknowns. That’s particularly true in Place 5, where six candidates have filed to run against incumbent Bill Spelman.  Here's our rundown of the known and unknown candidates:


No major surprises here. Incumbent Mayor S. Lee Leffingwell (the "S" stands for Shelley) has made his re-election intentions clear for months, while former council member Brigid Shea has been steadily campaigning since she declared last month. Challenger Clay Dafoe is also familiar to council watchers as an outspoken gadfly at council meetings. He's known for haranguing the City Council when they meet; a representative example can be seen here

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4:07 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Texas Primaries Finally Get a Date: May 29

Mark your calendars: Texas primaries are set for May 29.

May 29 it is.

The federal court in San Antonio that’s overseen the Texas redistricting battle has set a firm date for primaries in the state.

May 29 had been posited as the likely primary date, and now the court’s order makes it official. The date for run-offs is July 31.

8:35 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Female Candidate Battles Machismo In Mexico

Josefina Vazquez Mota celebrates her selection as the presidential candidate of the National Action Party in Mexico City on Feb. 5. She's the first woman to run for president in Mexico on a major party ticket.
Alfredo Estrella AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 21, 2012 10:15 am

Earlier this month, the National Action Party of Mexico nominated the country's first ever female presidential candidate, economist Josefina Vazquez Mota. As Vazquez Mota accepted the nomination, she vowed to be the first woman to become the Mexican head of state.

The PAN, as the conservative party is known in Spanish, is Mexico's current ruling party. It has also put forth a woman, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, in Mexico City's mayoral race. Both elections take place on July 1.

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11:26 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Watch Lee Leffingwell's ‘Ferris Bueller’ Homage

Mayor Lee Leffigwell sports a soapy fauxhawk in a viral campaign clip.
Image courtesy youtube.com/TheLeeTeam2012

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell has never been big on the theatrics that defined his predecessor, Will Wynn. But with a single campaign video, Leffingwell surpasses Wynn’s zombie costumes, “Thriller” dancing and SXSW partying in one fell swoop.

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12:59 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Final Charter Revision Meeting: Pro Forma or Fireworks?

Vice-Chair Ann Kitchen, and Chair Gonzalo Barrientos at the Charter Revision Committee's last meeting.
Photo by Erika Aguilar, KUT News

So, the hard part’s over, right?

Tonight marks what should be the final meeting of the 2012 Charter Revision Committee, a City Council-appointed citizen task force. The group has recommended numerous changes to the city charter that should be put before voters this November, but their biggest issue has been reaching agreement on how Austin should change its form of municipal elections.

At the Feb. 2 meeting (which was then expected to be their final one), there was widespread support for moving from Austin’s current, at-large system of City Council elections, where every candidate runs citywide, to a form of district representation.

But just what form that change should take created a rift on the task force. 

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City Council Elections
3:19 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Dominic Chavez Challenging Bill Spelman in Race for Council Seat

Place 5 City Council member Bill Spelman is facing competition in his re-election efforts.
Photo by Paulo Martins, KUT News

The race for a seat on the Austin City Council may get a little more interesting.

When Place 5 council member Bill Spelman ran in 2009, he was unopposed. It was pretty easy to see why: As a former council member (serving from 1997 to 2000), he had name recognition with the core of Austin voters who reliably turn out for Austin elections. His work since at the University of Texas raised his stature on police and public safety which are perennial topics in local contests. At one point, his name was even floated as a potential mayoral challenger.

But in his re-election bid, Spelman has some competition.

Today, Dominic Chavez announced his candidacy in Place 5. Chavez serves as senior director for external relations at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, a state agency that works with Texas colleges.

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1:37 pm
Fri February 10, 2012

Slow Redistricting Lowers Clout of Texas Voters

Image by Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

In a parallel political universe — one in which redistricting maps were in place and elections were on schedule — Texas would be getting national attention right now.

The four survivors in the Republican presidential primary race would be hitting all the stops on the barbecue circuit, wearing jeans and boots, raising money, posing for pictures and saying remarkable things to be played over and over on TV.

Instead, the earliest possible date for our primary elections will come after 34 states and territories have already spoken, either through primaries or caucuses. It could come later, leaving Texas to join 13 states that hold presidential primaries in May and June.

Just think of it. If the federal courts had approved the maps drawn by the Legislature, or those drawn by a panel of federal judges in San Antonio last year, we’d be less than two weeks away from early voting.

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8:28 am
Wed February 8, 2012

McCaul Family's Pipeline Holdings Stir Controversy

Rep. Michael McCaul may has a conflict of interest in his support for the Keystone XL pipeline, his opponent says.
Photo by Ed Schipul, Texas Tribune

Legislation cracking down on insider trading by members of Congress hasn’t landed on the floor of the U.S. House yet, but it’s already become a political football in Congressional District 10.

That’s because the Democrat who wants that seat, international affairs consultant Dan Grant, is alleging that incumbent Rep.Michael McCaul, R-Austin, is benefiting from lax ethics rules for U.S. representatives and senators — rules the pending U.S. STOCK Act would help strengthen.

McCaul says his opponent is flat wrong.

At the heart of the dispute is the McCaul family’s private interest in the company pushing the Keystone XL Pipeline — and the congressman’s public advocacy for the project as a member of Congress. McCaul, believed to be the second-wealthiest member of Congress, reported that his family owned $115,000 to $300,000 in TransCanada Corporation stock as of 2010, the latest year available, according to ethics filings compiled online by the Center for Responsive Politics.

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2:53 pm
Fri February 3, 2012

What Does Last Night’s Charter Revision Vote Mean?

Supporters of the "10-1" district plan for future City Council elections, at the Charter Revision Committee meeting last night.
Photo by Erika Aguilar, KUT News

Last night, the 2012 Charter Revision Committee narrowly voted to recommend a new form of government for the City of Austin – a city council comprised of members representing 10 individual districts, with only the mayor running city-wide.

So what’s next?

For starters, the committee isn’t completely finished yet. In a sign of the contentious nature of the 8-7 vote to recommend the “10-1” plan, the committee called for another meeting, to go over the language in the final recommendation it makes to council.

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City Council Elections
12:00 pm
Mon January 30, 2012

Austin Election Update: Willie and Lance Endorse, Place 2 Challenge, and a Hallucinatory Candidacy

Willie Nelson (L) and Lance Armstorng (R) have announced their endorsement of Lee Leffingwell.
Nelson photo courtesy Larry Philpot, soundstagephotography.com; Leffingwell photo courtesy his campaign; Armstrong photo courtesy http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Haggisnl

Mayor Lee Leffingwell is taking nothing for granted in his re-election bid.

Despite a lack of formidable opposition, Austin’s incumbent mayor announced two high profile, if unorthodox, endorsements this weekend. His campaign shares the details:

AUSTIN, TX – Mayor Lee Leffingwell is excited to announce today that he has been endorsed by two of Austin’s favorite adopted sons – country music legend Willie Nelson and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

 “I love Austin and I think Mayor Leffingwell has done a real good job of helping keep it a special place,” said Nelson.  “I’m proud to give him my endorsement.”

 “Mayor Leffingwell has been a strong leader and I think he deserves another term,” said Armstrong.  “I hope my fellow Austinites will join me in supporting him for re-election.”

Austin’s municipal election is set for May 12.

Race Shaping Up in Place 2?

A vocal critic of City Hall has settled on a place in which to run.

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