Mayoral candidate Ron Natinsky may have been eligible after all for an endorsement from Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, according to the group’s president.
As we reported over the weekend, Natinsky abruptly pulled out of Stonewall’s candidate screening on Saturday over questions about whether he was eligible for the group’s endorsement since he’s a Republican.
According to Stonewall’s bylaws, “Endorsements may be made in Dallas County non-partisan elections if the candidate has a Democratic Party primary election voting history and/or affirms allegiance to the Dallas Democratic Party.”
Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said Monday that it’s possible Natinsky would have been eligible for the endorsement despite the candidate’s Republican primary voting record. The group instead endorsed former police chief David Kunkle.
“Bylaws cannot be waived, but there’s a lot of gray in that bylaw, just depending on how it’s interpreted and how it’s read,” Narvaez said. “I can’t tell you how it would have gone had he [Natinsky] been there. All I can say is that Kunkle had a lot of supporters in the room already.
“It was sad that he [Natinsky] ended up dropping out at the last minute, because it was another opportunity to actually speak to us,” Narvaez added. “When a candidate’s there it really means a lot more to the members. When somebody just decides that they’re not going to come speak at all, it makes the membership feel almost slighted — ‘why wouldn’t you show up?'”
Narvaez said the question of whether Natinsky was eligible for the endorsement didn’t come up until Friday, when Instant Tea reported that according to the group’s bylaws, Natinsky didn’t appear to be eligible. “Honestly it was all caused by one individual who was reading the Dallas Voice and probably took it to a higher level,” Narvaez said.
However, Natinsky maintained that the eligibility question was first raised last Tuesday, when he spoke at Stonewall’s general meeting.
“I was prepared to come, and on Tuesday, there were some discussions as to whether I was eligible or not eligible, and when I left on Tuesday night, the last answer we got was, it didn’t matter how you voted in primaries,” he said. “Then, somewhere between Tuesday and Friday, we got different answers to that same question, because we were trying to confirm it.”
Natinsky said he understands that Stonewall has bylaws it must follow, but he said, “It was the indecisiveness and the vacillating back and forth. … You hate to be caught in the middle.”
“I could have showed up and yeah, they might have endorsed me, but why would they have endorsed me in violation of their own bylaws?” Natinsky said. “To go through a process only to have a bylaw say you can’t be endorsed anyway, why would anyone put themselves through the process?”
Natinsky, who’s been endorsed by some prominent gay Democrats in the nonpartisan mayor’s race, said he was also concerned when he found out his completed Stonewall endorsement questionnaire would be shredded after being viewed only by certain members of the group.
“It’s just not a very transparent process,” Natinsky said. “I don’t know why the answers to the written questionnaires would not be something you’d want to share with the community.”
Narvaez said the group has always shredded questionnaires after endorsements are made “out of respect for the candidates.” He said the fear is that responses on the questionnaires could be altered or used against a candidate in a negative way. However, he said completed questionnaires were available to all 57 Stonewall members who participated in Saturday’s endorsement screening.
Narvaez said the group doesn’t release final tallies for endorsement votes. However, he indicated that the vote went heavily in favor of Kunkle over Mike Rawlings and Edward Okpa.