Former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole has emerged as the biggest Democratic primary threat to beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ 12-term tenure representing House District 46.
An ethics commission report filed before Tuesday’s deadline shows Cole had raised $91,483 since mid-August, according to her campaign manager, André Treiber, who said another $23,831 was unofficial as it had been pledged but not received.
Overall, Cole’s campaign says it has received $232,246 in donations and pledges, with state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, giving $1,000.
“I’m humbled by the broad base of community support,” Cole said. “It shows what Austin values — the need to be present and represent the district and our entire region and state.”
The report was not immediately available on the ethics commission’s website. Dukes’ filing also was unavailable, but she told the American-Statesman the money she raised is “sufficient and completely competitive for my successful re-election campaign.”
The numbers in Dukes’ reports might reveal the faith the public has in her following questions about her drug use by the Travis County district attorney’s office, and repeated absences at the Capitol during the Legislative session. Dukes in October beat 13 felony counts when prosecutors were forced to fold their corruption case against her that focused on her use of $61 a day House travel vouchers. Prosecutors believed for months a witness would testify that Dukes falsified records to collect the per diem when she wasn’t entitled to it. But the witness instead signed an affidavit saying she met the requirements.
Two misdemeanor charges that Dukes used her staff to run personal errands for her were also abandoned.
Cole, who said she received 274 individual donations, appears to be top challenger to Dukes among the five Democrats who have filed to run in the March 6 primary. The only other candidate whose filing was available is Jose “Chito” Vela, who raised $30,014 in the latest reporting period and spent $23,263. He has $22,296 cash on hand.
There were no reports available for Casey McKinney, Ana Cortez or Warren Baker.