Watching the results roll in Saturday night in Dallas' municipal election, one would be excused for being a little surprised, especially if she'd been paying attention to what the Observer reported over the last couple of weeks.
State Rep. Eric Johnson was almost 20 points ahead of Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs when early vote numbers were released just after 7 p.m., all but ending the mayoral fun before it really got going. Similarly, real estate financier David Blewett had a 10-plus-point lead on three-term incumbent Griggs ally Philip Kingston in what was essentially a referendum on Kingston's temperament in District 14, which covers downtown and Uptown, as well as portions of East Dallas and Oak Lawn.
Johnson's and Blewett's leads came despite a series of dust-ups that seemingly broke against the two candidates in the waning days of the campaign. A tape of a North Dallas fundraiser at which Hunt Oil executive Jeanne Phillips touted Johnson as the candidate of Dallas' business elite made the rounds, as did a Johnson tweet threatening the Griggs campaign for what turned out to be benign poll-greeting at an early voting location near NorthPark Center.
Blewett couldn't stay out of the way of one of Dallas' most active political constituencies, the Oak Lawn LGBTQ community, making several statements that, at best, could be described as awkward about attending Dallas' Pride Parade and Kingston's attempts to "radicalize" Dallas' gay community.
If any of the controversies, all of which were reported after early voting had already begun, had anything to do with Saturday's results, their effects didn't show up until election day.
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Johnson and Blewett easily waxed Griggs and Kingston in early voting, which ran from May 28 through June 4, racking up margins of 16 and 14 points, respectively. Saturday, things were much closer. Johnson beat Griggs by just 1,108 votes and watched his margin erode to 11 points, while Blewett got only 39 more votes than Kingston, who ended up losing by seven.
One look at the vote distribution map in the mayor's race, and it's easy to see the narrative of the election. Griggs, the nominal progressive in the race, won the core of the city, including his home neighborhood of North Oak Cliff, the areas surrounding downtown Dallas and much of East Dallas. Johnson won the election by harvesting hundreds of votes from Dallas' last remaining GOP stronghold in the area just north of the Park Cities and steamrolling Griggs in South Dallas and South Oak Cliff, following the old-school Dallas path to mayoral victory that's been walked by the likes of Ron Kirk and outgoing Mayor Mike Rawlings.