Nov 9, 2022 - Politics

Austin mayoral race heads to a runoff

Photo illustration of Celia Israel, and Kirk Watson.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photos: Israel campaign, Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

State Rep. Celia Israel and former mayor Kirk Watson will head to a runoff next month after no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the crowded field for mayor.

  • The big picture: Israel maintained a lead over Watson with 40.5% of the vote compared to his 35%, according to Travis County's unofficial election results which show nearly all precincts reporting as of 6:30am Wednesday.

Jennifer Virden, the only other leading mayoral candidate, received roughly 18% of the vote.

Of note: A small segment of Austin voters are in Williamson County.

Why it matters: The results set up a battle between the moderate and left wings of the Democratic party.

  • Watson received endorsements from key unions and moderate Republicans and Democrats, while Israel has received support from young progressives and campaigned hard on being unlike any other candidate.

What they're saying: "We made it to a runoff, and we made it to a runoff against the most powerful interests in Austin, Texas," Israel told supporters at Lustre Pearl. "They are not happy tonight. We are happy tonight."

Yes, but: Runoffs are vastly different from a normal Election Day, as a narrower and more dedicated set of voters head to the polls.

Meanwhile: Money talks, and Watson enters the runoff with more of it.

  • Watson still has $113,000 in cash on hand compared to Israel's $38,000, according to the Oct. 29 campaign finance reports.

Of note: Outgoing Mayor Steve Adler has yet to publicly endorse a candidate in the race, but told the Austin American-Statesman that he might in the case of a runoff.

What's next: Voters can cast early ballots in the runoff election Dec. 1-9. Election Day is Dec. 13.


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