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Politics

Dallas Mayoral Poll Week Nine: More Money, More Votes

We're getting down to the wire. It's our last poll before we declare a winner.

The first full week of early voting saw, uhm, 25,150 people vote in the municipal elections. That’s just over 4 percent, which is pretty bad if you’re only looking at that number. But considering the last mayoral election got just 6 percent total, it seems we are on pace for at least an improvement. You’ve got to start somewhere. This week saw the candidates releasing their final campaign finance reports, the one that gets published eight days before the election. It shows total contributions over the last four weeks. Mike Ablon raised more than anyone else and he’s also loaned himself almost $400,000. There’s about $4 million total in this race. And with a low turnout, everyone needs to find ways to appeal to their base and get them to the polls. As you can imagine, much of that money is being spent rather rapidly, even before early voting got going.

District-by-district turnout looks to be about what you’d expect. District 13, which features the hotly contested City Council race between incumbent Jennifer Staubach Gates and former Mayor Laura Miller, has turned out 4,487 voters. That’s the city’s highest turnout, of 8.27 percent. That probably benefits Ablon and Lynn McBee most. The next closest by total votes cast is Philip Kingston’s District 14, which has brought out 2,921, or 4.07 percent. Scott Griggs’ 1,844 is good enough for sixth highest total and the third highest rate, at 4.97 percent. Those two probably lean Griggs, but the mayoral hopeful isn’t getting a ton of help from his council district pals Adam Medrano and Omar Narvaez, whose two districts together have generated fewer votes than Griggs’ alone. He has to hope that District 9 near White Rock Lake leans his way; 5.2 percent of its voters—2,557—have already cast their ballot. — Matt Goodman

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1) Albert Black

Total Votes This Week: 1,083
Last Week: 528 (2)

Black raised just shy of $44,000 over the last four weeks, bringing the early fundraising leader back to sixth place. He posted endorsements from State Senator Royce West and Judge Elizabeth Frizell, who barely lost in a primary election against eventual Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot. He wants to tackle ethics reform through stronger leadership, telling the DMN: “There are certain circumstances in our city where the lack of anger among public officials makes it atrocious. Shouldn’t we be outraged about the public corruption in Dallas, Texas, or should we just politely say this is another dark day for Dallas, Texas, and wait on the next episode?” —Shawn Shinneman

2) Jason Villalba

Total Votes This Week: 802
Last Week: 537 (1)

The former state representative brought in just over $21,000 during the last reporting period, which furthers his struggles in the money category. He’s raised less than $100,000 for his campaign, the only candidate besides socialist Alyson Kennedy to not crest six figures. He insists that doesn’t matter, that he has a strong base in North Dallas where he has spent millions of dollars spreading his name during his statehouse runs. He also believes the strong turnout in District 13 will help him. His plan to curb corruption includes banning developers from doing work with the city if they’re caught trying to influence policy through their dollars. — M.G. 

3) Scott Griggs

Total Votes This Week: 202
Last Week: 155 (3)

Griggs continues to perform well in our poll, and to a sustainable, believable degree where you figure his campaign’s probably not pulling up private browsers to game the numbers. He has a very committed base of supporters who’ve watched him do his thing at City Hall over the last eight years. No candidate has had more ink spilled on them this election cycle, for better and worse (the Dallas Observer’s Jim Schutze sounded off in Griggs’ defense again last week). Which makes you wonder what to make of his fundraising total. Griggs added $79,000 during the last four weeks; he’s raised $284,839 so far, which is the second-lowest total among the candidates and less than half the pulls of McBee, Johnson, Ablon, and Solis. Does the gap end up hurting Griggs, or does he already have the name recognition he needs? We’ll know the answer by next time we run this feature. —S.S.

4) Miguel Solis

Total Votes This Week: 96
Last Week: 102 (4)

Solis had a solid fundraising spree, bringing in $196,667 in the 30 day filing period. Only Mike Ablon’s $219,290 was more. Solis had 14 total maximum contributions, including $5,000 from our favorite mullet-haired Councilman Lee Kleinman. Solis continued courting support from members in the arts community—cultural philanthropist Donna Wilhelm also tossed in $5,000. Leadership for Educational Equity, a PAC affiliated with Teach for America, contributed $5,000. Margot Perot also gave a max donation. Solis this week had a meet and greet at Mercado 365 on Jefferson Ave. and spent Sunday worshipping at the 12,000-member Friendship-West Baptist Church in southern Dallas. He gave Rev. Dr. Freddy Haynes a shout out on Facebook for his 36th anniversary. Solis has really spent his purse: the last 30 days report shows expenditures worth $434,154.07 and just $29,503.94 remaining on hand. He also detailed to The News’ Gromer Jeffers his own plan to address corruption, which includes contracting with an outside firm to revamp the city’s ethics code. He also vowed to speed up the processing of open records and improve the reporting process for campaign contributions. — M.G.

T5) Mike Ablon

Total Votes This Week: 87
Last Week: 65 (5)

Ablon has a plan to combat Dallas’ ethics problem. He wants to disband the current Ethics Advisory Commission, whose members are appointed by Council members. He wants to replace it with an independent commission. He also wants the city to create an independent ethics ombudsman position, with power to investigate complaints and randomly audit city departments as it sees fit. There’s more to the plan, available in full here. Ablon told the DMN: “We have an ethics crisis at City Hall, and half-hearted changes are not enough. We need to create a new culture of integrity at City Hall where these disgraces are rare exceptions, starting with comprehensive ethics reforms that include reducing the role of high-paid lobbyists and require more transparent disclosures of their relationships with elected city leaders.” The real estate developer continues to have tons of money at his disposal. He raised almost $220,000 in the last four weeks—more than anyone else—and loaned himself another $275,000. —S.S.

T5) Lynn McBee

Total Votes This Week: 87
Last Week: 49 (6)

McBee has now raised $761,000, more than any other candidate. Add that to the $350,000 she reported loaning herself last period, and you have a candidate flushed with cash. As the CEO of the Young Women’s Prep Network, she can—and has—spoken to female voters in a way other candidates can and have not. And she has one of three DMN endorsements. She has her knocks as well, of course, none more prominent than her deep Park Cities ties—hence the cash. It’ll be interesting to see how all those factors work themselves out at the polls. —S.S.

7) Eric Johnson

Total Votes This Week: 58
Last Week: 33 (7)

Eric Johnson was in the news a lot last week. He presented his long-teased bill in the Texas House to remove elected officials from the process in which the state determines how to dole out affordable housing tax credits. Johnson said the bill was separate from his mayoral race, and, indeed, Johnson introduced similar legislation in 2015. But corruption is something that nearly all of his opponents are hitting on in mailers and on forums, in the wake of the bribery cases against former Council members Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway. This would give Johnson something tangible to point to. The bill is pending in committee. As for fundraising, Johnson pulled in $174,713 in the last month, which trails only Mike Ablon and Miguel Solis. He received 18 max donations, including one from philanthropist Annette Simmons and Richard Fisher, the former head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Fisher went one step further, writing a letter that Johnson’s campaign emailed out Monday morning. Fisher notes he “swore off any and all political affiliation and activity” when he took over the Dallas Fed in 2005. He’s kept that up. “Since stepping down a decade later, I have maintained my apolitical stance, vowing to never become entangled in political affairs,” he writes. “I have decided to break this self-imposed rule only once: to support Eric Johnson in his candidacy for Mayor of Dallas.” With more than $690,000 raised during the entire campaign, Johnson trails only McBee.— M.G.

8) Regina Montoya

Total Votes This Week: 55
Last Week: 31 (8)

Montoya’s fundraising slowed a bit in the last four weeks. She brought in $95,135, enough to get her over half a million dollars total. Campaign manager Jeff Dalton told The News that Montoya’s contributions will “fully fund our plan” by May 4. She has loaned herself $176,000, including another $25,000 that came on April 15. Her last report shows $327,405.45 in expenditures with $50,040 remaining in the final days before the election. She had eight max donations. In the last month, her campaign spent over $172,000 with New York’s BerlinRosen marketing and PR firm. Her solution for fighting corruption at City Hall? Longer City Council terms, improved public access, and giving ethics policies “teeth.” — M.G.

9) Alyson Kennedy

 Total Votes This Week: 7
Last Week: 4 (9)

Kennedy hasn’t been filing campaign finance reports because she is running a campaign without contributions. I don’t have much else about her. — M.G.

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