The Belo empire is too preoccupied with pumping up its favorite candidate to report this, so we'll let you in on a little secret. Former Dallas Observer columnist Laura Miller is kicking fanny in the mayoral race.
So maybe that wasn't such a secret, at least to anyone who judges campaign support by the number of yard signs a candidate plants. Signs around the city are so strongly pro-Miller that we tend to believe her campaign's polling, which as of Christmas placed her ahead of insurance man Tom Dunning by better than a 3-to-1 margin. (The Miller campaign's numbers put her at 48 percent, to 13 percent for Dunning and 5 percent for Domingo Garcia, a lead that held up from Thanksgiving through Christmas.) Miller is even ahead among black voters, says campaign manager Rob Allyn, whose strategy has been to play up Miller as a nurturing mommy rather than the bloodless terminator who got Al Lipscomb jacked up on federal corruption charges. (Buzz prefers to think of her as both, sort of like the acid-spewing hive queen in Aliens. Kind of wicked, but a devoted mom.)
So why haven't you seen any horse-race coverage of this lopsided run in Dallas' only daily, or on Channel 8? Allyn says he's given his numbers to Belo, owner of The Dallas Morning News and WFAA-TV, but neither outlet has reported them. Allyn says Belo people told him they have their own poll in the works. It was supposed to come out this week, but it's been pushed back until the week before the January 19 election. "I think we have a poll that week," Allyn says. "It's called the election."
Buzz suspects the News is waiting for Dunning's new ads--and its own editorial-page puff pieces--to raise his candidacy from the dead. Miller told the daily last week that a recent Dunning ad highlighting her opposition to city funding for a Veterans Day celebration in 1998 was "divisive and mean-spirited." Perhaps it was, but only because it quoted Miller accurately and in context. Regular readers of this paper know how much she hates being quoted saying things she shouldn't have.
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Buzz, on the other hand, thinks the Dunning camp's ad is pretty damn smart, considering who votes in Dallas city elections. An amazing 40 percent of city-election voters are older than 66, and 20 percent more are between 56 and 65. Only 5 percent are under age 35, which means if you are still reading this, you're probably a fairly rusty customer.