BLACKWOOD TO MILLER: “YOU’RE NOT ALL THAT”

Perhaps you read, as I did, this piece in yesterday’s paper and came to the following conclusion: Beth Ann Blackwood is distancing herself from Laura Miller like Strom Thurmond sprinting away from an illegitimate daughter.

Sad but true, and of course there’s a reason. Blackwood is gearing up for a run for office, and she needs to shed the baggage of the strong-mayor debacle. So she shifts the blame to Miller, who gambled that her own popularity would seal the deal and carry her to victory.

Of course, the alliance was strange from the start. Blackwood started out as a client of Rob Allyn’s (the mayor’s consultant) when she was looking at the District 14 race. When strong mayor heated up, Blackwood and Allyn got crosswise, she fired him, and then hired rival Bryan Eppstein in Fort Worth. Miller trashed Blackwood’s plan, then thought better of it, and then became its public face. And as it soon became clear, Miller came to dominate the issue–much to the delight of South Dallas.

But even in January–before Miller announced her Stronger Mayor, Stronger Dallas committee but everyone knew it was coming–I interviewed Chris Gavras at the Eppstein Group about Blackwood’s strategy. And I was surprised that all he talked about were grass-roots organizations and yard signs. Hmmm.

The truth is that Blackwood fumbled early: she didn’t diffuse the talk that she was from the Park Cities fast enough and she kept the initial list of donors for the petition drive secret for too long. Even worse, she lost the support of the business community from the start because those folks felt shut out of the process. Miller became a logical partner, kind of like Churchill and Stalin. And we all know how that ended up.

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