Kelsey Shoemaker

Politics & Government

Dallas Council Incumbents Raise Gobs of Money After Mayor Endorses Opponents

City Council members who have drawn challengers backed by the mayor have enjoyed a fundraising spike over the last month.

Mayor Eric Johnson has made it known he’d like to see several of his Dallas City Council colleagues unseated on May 1. What is less clear is whether the mayor’s endorsements have done his favored candidates any good.

New campaign finance reports show that three Dallas City Council incumbents who are facing challengers with either Johnson’s open or implied support are handily out-fundraising their opponents in the final days of election season. It’s a sharp contrast from a month agobefore the mayor made his endorsementswhen challengers in these three races were either outpacing or essentially matching the incumbents in campaign contributions.

Councilman Jaime Resendez, who represents District 5 in southeast Dallas, has over the last month made Johnson’s endorsement of candidate Yolanda Williams an explicit part of his fundraising pitch. That seems to have paid off. The incumbent raised more than $50,000 between March 23 and April 21, according to campaign finance filings that were due last week. Williams, a former Park Board member, raised just shy of $16,000 in that timeframe and has about $10,000 on hand.

Councilman Adam Bazaldua, who represents South Dallas in District 7, has put together more than $36,000 over the last month. He has more than $57,000 in his campaign coffers. Donald Parish Jr., a South Dallas pastor who has Johnson’s endorsement in a crowded race, raised more than $18,000 and has about $29,000 on hand.

Johnson has not made an endorsement in District 9, which covers White Rock and parts of East Dallas, although his social media activity and a Venn diagram of campaign contributors seems to indicate a clear preference for one of two challengers to incumbent Paula Blackmon. The councilwoman has a big fundraising lead, with the nearly $91,000 she has on hand bolstered by more than $57,000 she raised in the last month. Chiropractor John Botefuhr, with Johnson’s apparent support, raised almost $19,000 in the same period and has more than $10,000 on hand.

What do these council members have in common? They butted heads with the mayor over a vote to cut $7 million in police overtime funding. Despite what some campaign mailers would have you believe, none of them want to defund the police. And since the mayor has revealed his support of their opponents, they’ve enjoyed spikes in fundraising. If they do keep their seats, I wouldn’t anticipate things getting any less awkward around the council’s virtual horseshoe.

It’s not unusual for City Council incumbents to raise more money than other candidates, or for fundraising to pick up in the final days of a campaign. It is unusual (although not unprecedented) for Dallas mayors to endorse challengers to incumbents. And it’s especially unusual for this mayor to make any endorsements at all. But if you’ve read Peter Simek’s profile of Johnson in the May issue of D Magazine, you’ll also know that the mayor is not easy to pin down.

Early voting continues through Tuesday. Election Day is May 1. Runoffs in several races will likely follow that. We’ll dive deeper into these newest campaign finance filings and continue our coverage in the meantime.

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