Brewster McCracken Withdraws From Austin Mayor Run Off

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Facing difficult odds in a runoff against Lee Leffingwell, Brewster McCracken has decided this morning to withdraw. McCracken announced his decision in an e-mail to supporters, which is printed in full below.

By withdrawing, McCracken will save the City of Austin $700,000 in election-related costs.

The last runoff for Austin Mayor in 1997 was also called off after the second-place finisher Ronney Reynolds withdrew. 

Here is the e-mail that McCracken sent to supporters this morning.

Dear friends,

To paraphrase W.C. Fields, all in all, I’d rather be in St. Louis.

While I am honored to have received sufficient votes to make it to a runoff, Saturday’s results clearly weren’t what I had hoped for.

I believe my campaign could have made a runoff election a robust competition, but I have concluded that going forward would not be in the best interests of Austin. It would have required an unprecedented fundraising effort that, in this economy, would have put an additional burden on my supporters.  The cost of the election itself would have been expensive to taxpayers.  And a runoff campaign likely would have become negative – which would have distracted the community from unifying around the ideas that formed the core of my campaign, and which ultimately became the consensus among the candidates in this election.

So, I’m writing to let my friends and supporters know that I have decided to withdraw from the runoff election for Austin mayor.  We are coordinating an early afternoon press conference at City Hall in cooperation with Lee Leffingwell’s campaign team.  I hope you can attend.

I offer my sincere congratulations to Lee and his team. I spoke with Lee this morning, wished him my best, and offered my assistance as he leads Austin through a difficult and historic period in our city’s history.

This campaign will end today, but my commitment to Austin’s future will not. My mentor and role model Pike Powers led Austin through the MCC and Sematech efforts that rebuilt our economy – and he did that after he had left elected politics.  George Kozmetsky, whose vision and ideas deeply influenced my own, changed Austin’s future as a civically committed professor at the University of Texas.

I believe Austin has a unique generational opportunity to lead in tomorrow’s economy – in clean energy, biotech and the creative economy – and the examples set by Pike, Dr. Kozmetzsky and countless other Austinites remind me that there are many paths to making a difference in our community.

I’m also looking forward to the opportunities that emerge from disappointments – in particular to teaching my son how to play baseball and returning to writing fiction.

I am eternally grateful to the many supporters from across Austin who propelled this campaign.  There are too many to list here, but I owe special words of thanks to Martha Smiley, my campaign treasurer, Heather Beckel, my campaign manager;  my campaign staff – Colin Rowan, Celinda Provost, Jeff Brooks, Elise Flick, Sam McCabe, Jordon Hattery and Drew Johnston, my great council staff – Rossana Barrios, Rachel Proctor May and Mary Lou Rodriguez, as well as special friends like Austin Adams, JJ Baskin, Tim League and Jason Stanford. Together, we ran a campaign of ideas, and I’m proud of it regardless of the outcome. 

And finally, and most importantly, thank you to my family. My son Ford is going to be very happy to have me home at normal hours for guitar playing and heated Chutes and Ladders and Go Fish battles. And I’m looking forward to quiet time my wife Sarah, who married me just months before this chaos began, who encouraged me throughout this journey and with whom I am looking forward to a lifetime of adventures. 

In the weeks and months ahead, I urge everyone who supported my candidacy to push our ideas forward. Our ideas will be heard and addressed if we hold fast to what we believe Austin needs.  And I truly believe our ideas will help Austin emerge from these tough times stronger than we were before.

Thanks again for your support,




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  1. Congrats Lee Team
    The field program was top notch, and the election results prove that. Congrats to all the field organizers who knocked on doors across Austin to make this happen. Lee will make a fine Mayor, and he's got a great supporting cast to help him better serve the people of Austin.

    And a shout-out to the Brew crew. Karen, Austin, Eugene, Paul, Elyse, Jason, Elise, etc. Your dedication and hard work should be commended, and hopefully everyone can now come together and tackle Austin's challenges together.

    • Upbeat Nihilist on

      Thanks Ian.
      I wouldn't worry too much about everyone coming back together now that the election is over.   We all love this town and have a lot more in common than not, so shouldn't be a hard sell.

      We've got some great talent coming to council, and I'm very optimistic about the direction we're heading in.

  2. Kedron Touvell on

    Thank you Mayor Pro Tem!
    I think that's the first time I've ever called him that, but he deserves it today.  Brewster has saved us a lot of money plus a wasted month of political activity when we could be doing productive work instead.  For that, I thank him.

    I don't know what his future plans are, but he is a man of considerable talents and I hope he continues to use them for the benefit of our city.  I also hope he makes a ton of money after living on a public servant salary the last 3 years.

    • Minor corrections
      He has lived on a public servant salary for six years, KT.

      I believe that Brewster has deserved that title since it was given to him as will the next person who receives it. Part of our ability to be productive in public policy is enabled by a commitment to civility. Lee didn't receive my vote, but he is my mayor-elect now.

      Congratulations to Mayor-elect Lee on his victory and thank you to Mayor Pro-tem Brewster for his selfless service.

      • Kedron Touvell on

        Brewster didn't quit his day job until around 2006.  I don't give credit for double dipping.  Neither do I hold much respect for titles based on seniority.

        • Kedron Touvell on

          found it
          As reported in the June 22, 2006 edition of Infact, Brewster resigned from DuBois, Bryant, Campbell & Schwartz (my memory isn't as bad as I thought!).  He worked for Akin Gump et al before that.  I presume he had to resign because Akin Gump does a lot of business with the city, but I don't have any documentation for that.

        • Yep.
          Brewster was Of Counsel with that law firm which means they have an office and have stationary, but no salary. They are paid based on their hourly billings. Given the time he put into the council position his first three years, those billings were minimal, so he really did live off of what is the equivalent of the council salary for six years.

          I forgot you ran against him in 2006. Any runs in your future?

  3. Thank you to everyone… Yes Lee Can!
    This was a team effort and I am grateful for all of the support our campaign received. I am positive Lee will make a great mayor and it has been an honor to work for him on this campaign. All I can say is thank you.

  4. TomBombadil on

    Great job by the Brewster team
    Although I was not fortunate enough to be a Brewster staffer (despite the insanely loose guidelines that this blog applies to the term), I was able to see the staff in action.  They were a great group who ran an incredible campaign.  Hopefully things like the Pecan Street Project aren't lost to the wayside without Brewster at the helm.  And whatever Brewster decides to do next, I'm sure he will continue to work to make this city better.

    I am Tom Bombadil.

  5. big move
    smart move.

    when he summarily fired Mario Bravo i referred to him as “McClassless”.

    clearly i was wrong.

    McCracken definitely has a big future in Texas Democratic politics. he's just got to find the right race.

    as we saw with Julian Castro in 2005…older, more established Dem beats young, progressive, up-and-comer.

    Castro bided his time, stayed busy and made it the second time around.

    good move, McCracken. you did the right thing.

    • Kedron Touvell on

      future runs for Brewster…
      I think he'd be decent as a state rep or even Congressman for District 10 or 21, depending on who he's matched up against.  I don't think he has a shot at another Mayoral run like Castro, though. City politics are about relationships, and his relationships with “The Machine(TM)” are just too poor and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

  6. Good move
    I'm glad Brewster made the right choice and ended his campaign without taking this into a runoff.  I admire him for that.

    And of course congratulations to Mayor Lee Leffingwell!

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