It might look to some like frontrunner Mike Rawlings has the momentum building for an easy win in the Dallas mayoral runoff, but Kunkle supporters claim they are going to come from behind for an upset victory on June 18.
LGBT political activist Jesse Garcia said there are many “unknown factors” that could lead to a Kunkle victory. Runoffs traditionally produce poor turnouts, and without any South Dallas candidates being on the ballot there will be fewer votes cast from that area where Rawlings did so well in the election, Garcia said. Another unknown is the number of voters that abstained in the election but might vote in the runoff.
In a recent blog post I wrote that Rawlings had received endorsements from many past and present gay officials, and Garcia said that misrepresented where the majority of the LGBT community stands politically. “He only has certain key people, not the whole community lined up,” he said. Garcia added that Kunkle also has major support from LGBT “super activists” who contribute so much to civic affairs.
In fact, an analysis of the election results showed that Kunkle enjoyed strong LGBT support when he came in second behind Rawlings. In the 10 precincts where the most LGBT voters are believed to live, the Dallas Voice analysis showed Kunkle took 44 percent of the vote in those precincts, to Rawlings 37 percent.
Garcia also noted that it is unclear how those people who voted for Ron Natinsky, who failed to make the mayoral runoff and threw his support behind Rawlings, will actually vote. The runoff in District 12 for Natinsky’s former council seat is also on the ballot, so presumably many of his supporters will be returning to the polls, along with District 14 voters that traditionally turn out in large numbers.
My blog post, in which I wrote that LGBT leaders might want to start paving an inroad to a possible Rawlings administration in light of his failure to attract any endorsements from LGBT groups, apparently didn’t greatly concern the Kunkle camp until The Dallas Morning News commented on it. That did cause a commotion several days after my post had drifted into what I had believed to be obscurity. Garcia told me my post was unfair, and that it gave the impression that LGBT voters should just give up and vote for Rawlings. That’s not what I meant, but interpretation often swings wildly between writer and reader.
Dallas Morning News City Hall reporter Rudy Bush referred to my blog post as a “remarkable editorial” and noted that it could be a sign of a shift in LGBT support and even influence how the community might vote. That was real flattering, but the truth is my opinions do not reflect the official position of the Dallas Voice, nor do I command that much influence in the community. Bush didn’t make any mistakes, but he probably placed a little more importance on what I said than it actually commands.
Even so it prompted Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance to take the remarkable step of issuing a joint press release condemning me for expressing my opinion and The Dallas Morning News for reporting it. For the record, I didn’t endorse anyone, nor did I suggest that anyone “roll over” or “suck up.” It’s true that I live outside of Dallas, but I still consider myself part of the DFW LGBT community. (Read their joint press release here.)
At any rate, Garcia is correct in his assessment that the race is not over and anything can still happen. But I still think it is a good idea for our community to be sure we enjoy good relations with both candidates. It wouldn’t hurt to start laying the groundwork for whatever develops and whomever winds up at the top of City Hall.
Early voting in the runoffs continues through June 14. You don’t have to have voted in the May election to vote in the runoff. For a list of early voting times and locations, go here.