Sunday, September 24, 2023 Sep 24, 2023
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Dallas Mayoral Poll Week Six: Let’s Dig Through All of the Max Campaign Donors

And name some names.
By Shawn Shinneman |
Photo by Barta IV / via Flickr.

This week, we got a look at the money, the duckets, the shekels, the cheese fueling this mayoral race.

Eric Johnson raised a half a million dollars in two and a half months. Lynn McBee is up to almost two-thirds of a million. We’ve topped $2 million collectively. Here’s our simple breakdown of all the numbers from last week.

After we got the campaign finance reports late Thursday afternoon, the Dallas Morning News’ data team went to work, churning out a helpful visualization of the donations. We get a revealing picture of what parts of the city candidates are putting in their asks. The accompanying story notes that many of the donors use business rather than home addresses, however, which does skew the data a bit.

Our addition below: to pick through each report to get a sense of candidates’ max donors. The most an individual can hand a candidate is $5,000. Johnson received 63 donations of that size. Max donations for the rest:

Miguel Solis—33
Lynn McBee—31
Regina Montoya—24
Mike Ablon—22
Scott Griggs—16
Albert Black—3
Jason Villalba—3
Alyson Kennedy—?

As always, the results of last week’s poll are listed below. Don’t you dare forget to vote. Less than a month until the election. Week six, y’all. Here we go.

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1) Jason Villalba

Total Votes This Week: 606
Last Week: 966 (1)

Villalba appeared on the Earburner podcast this week, where he noted that we tend to ding him in this space—true—for, among other things, his lacking fundraising numbers. Give him this: he has name recognition that other candidates may not and won his last general election in 2016 by 15 percent. Also give him this: he’s sitting atop the race for mayor of D Magazine. He’s raised just $55,426, far less than any other candidate not named Alyson Kennedy. But he’s been on the ballot for years, and he believes he has the voters to carry him forward. His max donations were from attorney Andrew Duettra, former Council candidate Leland Burk, and Waste Control Specialists CEO William Lindquist. — Shawn Shinneman

2) Albert Black

Total Votes This Week: 404
Last Week: 583 (2)

Black’s three max donors are a surgeon, healthcare company AHCV founder Carlos Zaffirini, and a law firm. With such a big head start, he was the top candidate fundraiser during 2018, but he’s now raised just the sixth-most overall. Still, in this race that amounts to $389,661. — S.S.

3) Scott Griggs

Total Votes This Week: 133
Last Week: 291 (3)

As the DMN‘s analysis found, Griggs has fundraised below I-30 like no other candidate. The paper notes his success raising money from Kessler Park and Winnetka Heights, neighborhoods he represents on the City Council. He’s also pulled in a few max donations from Cienda Partners, a real estate developer that has worked in southern Dallas, including $5,000 from co-founders Phil Wise and Barry Hancock. And he secured a couple of max donations from a married pair that’s taken public interest in Fair Park—Ellen Williams, Foundation for Community Empowerment trustee, and former Trammell Crow Co. CEO Don Williams. — S.S.

4) Mike Ablon

Total Votes This Week: 82
Last Week: 112 (5)

Ablon raised more than $340,000 during the last fundraising period. Before that, he loaned himself $100,000 and has currently racked up $286,000 in unpaid incurred obligations, mostly to Mayes Media Group, which is running his campaign and handling advertising. It’s not surprising to see several donors who’ve made their money in real estate listed inside Ablon’s filing alongside $5,000 donations. Shawn Todd is here, the developer behind downtown Dallas’ East Quarter. So is Joel Pustmueller, co-founder of Peloton Real Estate. Ablon’s big business donors include First United Bank Chairman Greg Massey and Studio Movie Grill CEO Brian Schultz. He got 22 max donations. — S.S.

5) Miguel Solis

Total Votes This Week: 64
Last Week: 121 (4)

Solis, whose $415,663 settles behind Johnson as the second-highest this fundraising period, took a different approach than did the state rep. He earned max donations from Dallas Museum of Art board members Walter Elcock and Catherine Rose, the latter of which is the Teach For America DFW board chair. He’s courted 33 max donations in all, several from attorneys and retirees. Of course, there are CEO-types here, as well, but you might not recognize the names: Ken Barth of Catalogic Software, Michael Young of Quadrant Capital Partners, Jacques Vroom of Vroom Group, Arcilia Acosta of STL Engineers. Mitch Hart is here, too—he helped found EDS with Ross Perot—as well as his wife, Linda, who runs the Hart Group as CEO. Solis had 528 total contributions, ranking below Montoya’s 561 and above Griggs’ 519. — S.S.

6) Eric Johnson

Total Votes This Week: 38
Last Week: 40 (9)

You’ve likely heard by now the total. The Democratic state legislator rode his snuggly relationship with Dallas elite to a whopping $524,134. His list of business-tied max donors is a CVS receipt. I count about 40, of his 63 max donations, that are at the top of the top, meaning they’re either board chairs or CEOs or presidents—those encompass the vast majority—or, in a few instances, just a rung below that but in the C-suite. Some interesting names not previously reported: Harold MacDowell, CEO of TDIndustries; David Seaton, CEO of $20 billion engineering and construction firm Fluor Corporation; Daniel Podolsky, President of UT Southwestern Medical Center; Morgan Jones, CEO of American Pawn Superstores; Richard Collins, CEO of e-learning program iStation; and Henry Beck, executive chairman of The Beck Group. He also cut himself $5,000 from personal funds and squeezed $5,000 out of New York State Senator Brian Benjamin. — S.S.

7) Lynn McBee

Total Votes This Week: 36
Last Week: 49 (7)

McBee’s campaign manager, Mari Woodlief, sent out an email Thursday night announcing that McBee “nears $1 million in donations.” Which wasn’t exactly true—$350,000 of that came from a loan that the candidate gave herself. She did raise a respectable $375,000, and it’s dotted with philanthropists, like Connie Carenker, Darlene Cass, Carol Heller, and Ann Hobson, and Sally Hoglund. Heller was a major donor to the Southwest Medical Foundation and her $500,000 donation helped build William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital. Hobson was the 2017 chair of Art Ball. Also included in the max donations was Thomas Hartland-Mackie, the CEO of City Electric Supply and the owner of the building Bullion is now in; his wife Nasiba Hartland-Mackie, who runs The Tot; and his mother, Georgina Hartland. — Matt Goodman.

8) Regina Montoya

Total Votes This Week: 29
Last Week: 47 (8)

There haven’t been this many prominent attorneys in a room since, like, a law conference or something. Yeah! Most of Montoya’s 24 max donors are lawyers, is what I’m saying. But there are also the Harts, who cheat on Solis with a couple of max donations, as well as Margot Perot and Erika Nazem, who has a doozy of a top Google result. At $418,058, Montoya has somewhat quietly pulled in the fourth-most money so far, behind McBee, Johnson, and Ablon. With comparatively little name recognition coming into the race, she’s spent more than anyone outside Ablon, a fact the ads on my Instagram feed confirm. — S.S.

9) Alyson Kennedy

Total Votes This Week: 11
Last Week: 79 (6)

Kennedy did not submit a finance report. — S.S.

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