City Hall

The Dwaine Caraway Tour Of South Dallas (TM)

Yesterday, I rode shotgun in Dwaine Caraway's Beamer while he balled it up as only Dwaine Caraway can do, chatting with reporters, fist-bumping constituents and checking in on campaign workers encouraging voters to vote against the beer-and-wine proposition. It was an effort to counter the naysayers (though that's probably a fair description of most things Caraway gets up to) after Wilonsky wondered in a blog item yesterday afternoon: Wither all that promised anti-booze fire and brimstone?

The answer: South Dallas, mainly. Pointing out blighted corners and itinerant public drinkers -- with a few good Clay Davis-style expletives thrown in for good measure -- Caraway took me on a kind of driving essay from City Hall to the Cedars, though South Dallas and Oak Cliff, back up over the Trinity and downtown again. As we passed car washes and corner stores with groups of brown-bag-swilling boozers congregating outside, Caraway said angrily: "It's going to be a transfer of all of this" -- pointing to the afternoon drunks -- "over there" to Oak Cliff.

However convenient it might be for folks in dry areas to be able to pick up a six-pack or a bottle of wine at the corner grocery, Caraway wondered if those who support the expansion of alcohol sales have considered the price struggling communities might pay for others' convenience.

"It's going to cost us more in the end" to keep newly wet areas safe and crime-free, he said as we drove past drug dealers and abandoned homes, .

Near the intersection of Illinois and Overton, a drug dealer flagged down Caraway's car from a parking lot -- another thoroughly Wire-like moment in broad daylight. "Alcohol is going to be going backwards," he told me, shaking his head, waving back at the dealer. "Nah, we're good."

We stopped by an Exxon station in the process of adding a walk-in cooler should Proposition One pass and talked to the store owner who was standing out in the parking lot supervising the work. The owner told Caraway he didn't really want to sell booze, but would have no choice if nearby stores decided to.

"I am running a business," he told us. He would have to compete.

The real point of the ride, though, was for Caraway to demonstrate how much his people are campaigning against Prop One. We stopped by three polling locations, where we found men and women holding "Vote No" signs and wearing related T-shirts. "See, we out here!" insisted Caraway. Indeed, "Vote No" signs line many of South Dallas and Oak Cliff's major boulevards and emergency alert-style radio spots are airing on black stations.

"It's not going to be a runaway," said Caraway, who believes that despite the significant disparity in funding for his side of the issue -- $15,000 versus about $150,000 for those who support making dry areas wet with beer and wine -- he's ensured that any victory will only be by a few percentage points. But only Tuesday will tell.