Time's ticking for Austinite and Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey to announce his bid for Texas governor, but if he wanted it, he could still have a shot, according to a November poll by the University of Texas and Dallas Morning News.
If the race became a three-way showdown between Abbott, McConaughey and Beto O'Rourke, who announced his bid on Nov. 15, incumbent Abbott would stay in office with a 10-point lead, according to the poll's 1,106 voters.
But the poll indicates McConaughey, who has considered a campaign for months, would beat current Gov. Greg Abbott by eight percentage points in a head-to-head matchup. And Austin's Minister of Culture would fare even better alone against O'Rourke, with nearly 50% of respondents choosing McConaughey over the former Texas representative. O'Rourke received 27% of the vote, while 19% said they would vote for someone else.
McConaughey has teased a bid for governor since he said the move was "a true consideration" in March. In a spring poll by UT and the Dallas Morning News, voters said they'd choose McConaughey over Abbott by a 43%-35% margin—the same percentage points released this November.
But McConaughey seemed to have faltered on his rumored plans by October, with sources telling The Hollywood Reporter that the actor still "hasn't been fundraising or gathering a potential staff, aside from a few exploratory phone calls."
In an October interview on the New York Times' Sway podcast, McConaughey called politics a "bag of rats."
"One side I'm arguing is 'McConaughey exactly, that's why you need to go get in there. The other side is, 'that's a bag of rats man,'" McConaughey said. "Don't touch that with a 10-foot pole... you have another category to have influence... help how you think you can help and even heal divides.'"
One factor that could boost or hinder McConaughey is his assertion to be "aggressively centrist"—so much so that many aren't sure if he would run with a party or as an independent.
"People want a third party and we've got one and it doesn't have a name right now and it is the majority," McConaughey said. "I'm hesitant to throw labels... but there is a sleeping giant right now."
If McConaughey chose the Democratic ticket, the UT/DMN poll appears to point towards McConaughey, who would appear to beat both Abbott and O'Rourke in one-on-one showdowns.
But if the "poet-statesman" McConaughey chose independent, the poll points to another term with Abbott in office.
Forty percent of those polled said they wanted McConaughey to announce a run, but the notion grows slimmer with each passing day—the deadline for all candidates to file their bids is Dec. 13.
If the race is just Abbott vs. O'Rourke, O'Rourke would lose by six percentage points, according to the poll, which found that just 18% of voters have a "very favorable" view of the former representative. Just 23% of those polled "strongly approve" of how Abbott has handled his role as governor, with 29% strongly disapproving of his.time in office.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.
What's new in Austin food & drink this week:
- Nau's Enfield Drug closing after losing their lease. Did McGuire Moorman Lambert buy the building, with its vintage soda fountain?
- Nixta Taqueria Chef Edgar Rico named to Time Magazine's Time 100 Next influencer list, after winning a James Beard Award earlier this year.
- Question: From what BBQ joint did pescatarian Harry Styles order food this week?
- Austin Motel is opening the pool and pool bar Wednesday nights in October for Freaky Floats.
- Vincent's on the Lake closing due to "economic conditions and low water levels [at Lake Travis]."
- Cenote has closed its Windsor Park location. The East Cesar Chavez location remains open.
- The Steeping Room on N. Lamar has closed.
- Local startup It's Skinnyscored new financing for its gluten-free pasta business.
- P. Terry's opened a new location in Kyle, at 18940 IH-35.