Former Mayor and former Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) won Austin’s mayoral runoff, 50.4%-49.6%, over Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), a margin of 886 votes.

Watson’s margin of victory came from the pockets of Austin outside Travis Co. He received 62% of the nearly 3,600 votes cast in Williamson Co., and he received 27 of the 32 votes cast in Hays Co. Combined, those two counties gave Watson a 903-vote advantage. Israel narrowly carried Travis Co., receiving 50.01% of the 110K votes cast there – a margin of 17 votes.

Three council seat runoffs resulted in the elections of Ryan Alter (60%), Zo Qadri (51%) and José Velásquez (53%) to open seats. Turnout was around 18% of registered voters.

In Corpus Christi, council member Roland Barrera (51%) won re-election by 53 votes. Former council member Everett Roy defeated incumbent Billy Lerma by 51 votes (51.6%-48.4%). Former council member Mark Scott was not so fortunate, losing to Sylvia Campos by 33 votes (51.6%-48.5%). Turnout was south of 7.5% of registered voters.

RRC: Comm. Christi Craddick (R) was elected chair by her colleagues. Customarily, the chair rotates every two years, and Craddick is up for re-election in 2024.

Leadership: House Democrats elected Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) to lead the caucus. He succeeds Rep. Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie), who did not seek leadership of the caucus this session. Rep. Victoria Neave (D-Dallas) was elected chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

Campaign Finance: Late last week, federal candidates on the November ballot filed their post-general campaign finance reports. These reports disclosed contributions received and expenditures made between Oct. 20 and Nov. 28. Collectively, federal candidates raised $7.5M and spent $9.6M for the period. Our Crib Sheets have been updated.

These reports generally do not attract much interest since the elections are over, and the candidates are generally beginning to refill their campaign war chests heading into the new Congress. However, there were some figures worth noting.

Around 30% of contributions and expenditures for the period went to three races:

  • In CD28, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) was out-raised, $759K to $258K, and outspent, $882K to $406K, by challenger Cassy Garcia (R).
  • In CD15, Michelle Vallejo (D) out-raised U.S. Rep. Elect Monica De la Cruz-Hernandez (R-Alamo), $396K to $342K, but was outspent, $832K to $521K.
  • S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) raised just over $500K for the period – more than any other incumbent – and spent $235K. His Democratic opponent raised $7K and spent $21K.

Crenshaw’s haul brought his contribution total for the election cycle to $15.3M, and he spent $14.6M. Crenshaw received 74% of the vote in the March primary and 66% of the vote in the general election.

Nine members and members-elect ended the period with at least $1M on hand:

  • $5.23M – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin)
  • $2.03M – U.S. Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt (R-Houston)
  • $2.01M – U.S. Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas)
  • $1.78M – Crenshaw
  • $1.44M – U.S. Rep. August Pfluger (R-San Angelo)
  • $1.43M – U.S. Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock)
  • $1.39M – U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston)
  • $1.29M – U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin)
  • $1.23M – U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne (R-Irving)

Just missing the cut were U.S. Rep.-elect Morgan Luttrell (R-Houston) with $988K, U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (R-Woodville) with $936K and U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Amarillo) with $895K. As of the end of October, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) had $3.25M on hand, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) had $1.45M on hand.

For many filers, this report ends the election cycle, and funds raised before the end of the year count toward the next cycle. We use the end of the calendar year as the end of the campaign cycle, so we will also count the candidates’ year-end reports as part of this cycle, consistent with how we handle state candidates.

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