Jan 19, 2022 - News

Masked Austin candidates pop up in ads

An image of a door mailer from Margaret Gomez.

A masked candidate appears in a campaign ad. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

Masked Democratic political candidates might soon show up in your mailbox.

Driving the news: Margaret Gómez is pictured donning a mask in her new campaign mailer as she seeks reelection in Travis County's heavily Democratic Precinct 4.

Between the lines: In a contested Democratic primary — Gómez faces a challenge from Susanna Ledesma-Woody — the masked image is a shorthand way to relay to voters her political values.

What they're saying: "I​​f you're vaccinated and feel strongly about people taking precautions, you're more likely to vote Democrat," veteran Travis County political consultant David Butts, who isn't working for either campaign, tells Axios. In Precinct 4, which takes in part of Central Austin and the southeastern part of the county, "support for that is going to be pretty strong. It's not a bad strategy."

  • Do not hold your breath waiting for Republican candidates to run primary ads showing themselves masked, Butts says.

Image is everything: "While there are many candidates that support taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID, matching a visual with text reinforces that message in ways that solely text does not," Gordon Abner, an assistant professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas who writes about confidence in government, tells Axios.

  • Of note: Dating back to 2020, some political candidates have featured themselves masked, including Wendy Davis in her unsuccessful bid to represent part of Austin in Congress.

What's next: Early voting runs Feb. 14- 25. Primary day is March 1.


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