Saturday night, mercifully if you ask us, Dallas' 2019 municipal election is finally going to be over. The recordings, petty fighting and near-meltdowns that have characterized the last 10 days or so of the campaign will have finally run their course, and Dallas can get back to its most pressing summer dilemmas: the twin contract situations of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.
Ahead of the first-round election May 4, the Observer celebrated Kentucky Derby day by setting a horse racing-style morning line for the mayoral field. Since each of Saturday's races is a one-on-one contest, we figured we'd set point spreads for each of the contests. For those unfamiliar with how a spread works, if one were to bet on the favorite — listed on the left side of each matchup — one would then have to subtract the spread — the number in the middle — from the candidate's total before comparing the two sides.
On to the elections:
Dallas mayor's race: State Representative Eric Johnson -3.5 over Dallas City Council member Scott Griggs — Coming out of the first round, Johnson had everything going for him. He finished with the most votes in the nine-candidate mayoral field and had multiple endorsements from members of the old-money cabal that's traditionally backed Dallas' mayors. The last two weeks have not been kind to Johnson, however. A tape recording at a North Dallas fundraiser exposed how oil baron Ray Hunt and his friends make their sausage, Johnson exposed his thin skin by lashing out at the Griggs campaign on social media and Griggs just kept doing what Griggs does, tirelessly pushing his message of municipal fundamentals over big-ticket projects.
Given his backers — which also include The Dallas Morning News editorial board — it's still hard to dismiss Johnson as the favorite, but Griggs has come on strong in the closing days of the race. If election-day turnout mirrors the heavy early vote in downtown Dallas, Oak Lawn, North Oak Cliff and East Dallas, Saturday could be a long night for Griggs, Johnson and their supporters.
Dallas City Council District 4: Carolyn King Arnold -22.5 over Dawn Blair — Arnold is by no means a great candidate. During her two stints on the City Council, she's frequently been an unprepared obstructionist, happy to oppose projects, but unable to articulate why. She came out against the deck park proposed to be built over Interstate 35 near the Dallas Zoo, seemingly out of pure spite for her former electoral rival Dwaine Caraway, and has frequently found herself on an island at the City Council horseshoe.
While there's a good chance her opponent, Dawn Blair, a longtime employee with the city's Aviation Department, might get more done for the constituents of District 4, Arnold is a big favorite Saturday because of her proven electoral prowess. Over the last eight months, she's finished first in three City Council elections — the special election and runoff to replace Caraway after he resigned before heading to federal prison on corruption charges — and the first round of May's general election, in which she received more than 46 percent of the vote.
Dallas City Council District 7: Adam Bazaldua -5 over Tiffinni Young — While Bazaldua topped Young by only a little less than two points in the first round, Young has a problem. Seventy-eight percent of District 7 voters chose to vote for someone else in May. Given that Young has already served on the council once before being ousted by the same District 7 voters, it seems Fair Park and Far East Dallas might be ready for some new leadership. Bazaldua, 32, and a teacher at Dallas' Skyline High School, fits the bill.
Dallas City Council District 9: Paula Blackmon -2 over Erin Moore — Blackmon's got the connections — she's a former adviser to Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and former Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles — and the cash, having raised $60,100 during the runoff. Her opponent, Erin Moore, has the backing of Dallas progressives, including Mark Clayton, the most recent council member from District 9. But she has struggled to bring in cash, piling up just $27,100 in the last month, according to campaign finance reports. If Griggs has a good day Saturday in Lakewood and East Dallas, his rising tide could lift Moore's boat.
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Dallas City Council District 14: Philip Kingston PK David Blewett — Outside of the mayor's race, the Council election in District 14 might be the city's most important contest on Saturday. Blewett upset Kingston in the first round, beating the incumbent by more than seven points. Without pro-Confederate statue spoiler candidate Warren Johnson picking up 12 percent of the vote, there wouldn't have even been a runoff.
As Saturday's election has gotten closer and Blewett has undergone more scrutiny, however, cracks have begun to show in his campaign. Oak Lawn's LGBTQ community has come out strongly against Blewett, citing his seeming unwillingness to engage publicly, as well as his comments about attending Dallas' Pride Parade for political reasons. Turnout, too, seems to favor Kingston, as more voters showed up for early voting in District 14 than anywhere else in the city, many of them from Oak Lawn. If the influx of new voters is the cavalry showing up to try and save Kingston after his surprising loss in round 1, he could be headed for a fourth term on council. But that doesn't mean Blewett can't stop Kingston if his May voters turn out again and he picks up some of Johnson's support.
Make your picks in the comments.