Rawlings way ahead after early voting

Mike Rawlings

Barring a minor miracle, Mike Rawlings will be Dallas’ next mayor.

Rawlings, the former Pizza Hut CEO, has a commanding lead over David Kunkle after early voting in the runoff for Dallas mayor.

Rawlings received 59 percent of the early vote to Kunkle’s 41 percent, or 14,685 votes to 10,133, according to results posted shortly after 7 p.m. on the Dallas County Elections website.

Given that the early vote is expected to account for roughly half of overall turnout, Kunkle will have a very difficult time catching up as Election Day results are tallied over the next few hours.

Kunkle is endorsed in the runoff by both Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. But the two candidates’ positions on LGBT-related policy issues are similar, with both expressing strong support for the community.

Elsewhere, Sandy Greyson leads Donna Starnes after early voting in the runoff for the District 12 seat on the Dallas City Council, by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. Greyson had 1,979 vote to Starnes’ 1,706. Greyson and Starnes are vying to replace Ron Natinsky, an LGBT ally who stepped down to run for mayor but finished third and out of the runoff in the May election.

Greyson, who previously served on the council for eight years, voted in favor of a citywide n0ndiscrimination ordinance that includes sexual orientation in 2002. She also voted in favor of adding sexual orientation to DART’s nondiscrimination policy when she served on the transit agency’s board in 1995. Starnes, meanwhile, is a former tea party organizer who’s views on LGBT issues are largely unknown.

I’m headed down to the Rawlings’ watch party at the Meddlesome Moth in the Design District. David Taffet will be over at Kunkle’s watch party at the San Francisco Rose on Greenville.

Tammye Nash is keeping an eye on things in Tarrant County, where openly gay candidate Chris Hightower is vying to become the Arlington’s first openly gay councilmember, and Betsy Lane and Jim Price are squaring off in a runoff for Fort Worth mayor. Tammye will have an update on early voting shortly.

—  John Wright

It’s probably time for LGBT groups to start paving new political inroads to mayor’s office

Mike Rawlings, left, and David Kunkle

In terms of flexing their political muscle, Dallas’ LGBT political activists have shown a somewhat lackluster performance in the municipal election this year.

Businessman Mike Rawlings, the apparent frontrunner in the mayoral race that concludes in a runoff election June 18, failed to receive endorsements from either Stonewall Democrats of Dallas or the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance Political Action Committee. Instead, DGLA endorsed Ron Natinsky, the losing candidate in the election, and Stonewall Democrats endorsed David Kunkle, who came in second and faces Rawlings in the runoff. DGLA even expressed reservations about Rawlings, and the group has endorsed Kunkle in the runoff.

But Rawlings, who enjoys the endorsements of The Dallas Morning News, most current and former elected officials — including gay ones — and even Natinsky, appears to be headed for victory. Kunkle, the former Dallas police chief who proved himself to be a good friend to the LGBT community, is greatly admired and respected in the LGBT community, but it just doesn’t look like he is going to be our next mayor.

Given all of that, maybe it’s time for LGBT political leaders to start paving a political inroad to a potential Rawlings mayoral administration. We’ve enjoyed remarkable access to the mayor’s office for many years now to our enormous benefit, and we sure don’t want to lose that.

In the District 12 council runoff, there is an opportunity to elect Sandy Greyson, who as a former councilwoman voted favorably on LGBT issues during her previous four terms in that seat. Greyson, who also is endorsed by The Dallas Morning News, stepped down because of terms limits and passed the seat to Natinsky, who also proved himself to also be an ally. Greyson’s opponent in the runoff, financial planner Donna Starnes, is an unknown factor in regard to LGBT issues. As a Tea Party member and organizer, her alliances could possibly put her on a collision path with our community.

However the runoff turns out, the LGBT community seems to be on solid ground with so many political allies already seated, despite the fact that two openly gay candidates lost their bids for council places. But it never hurts to be on the winning side in politics, especially 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.

—  admin

DGLA likely to endorse David Kunkle, as PAC chair stands behind warning about Mike Rawlings

Damien Duckett

The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance’s Political Action Committee is scheduled to meet Friday to consider re-endorsing in the mayor’s race, after DGLA-backed candidate Ron Natinsky finished third and failed to advance to the June 18 runoff.

Damien Duckett, chair of the PAC, indicated that given DGLA’s previous “warning” against top vote-getter Mike Rawlings, the group is likely to get behind second-place finisher David Kunkle, who already has the backing of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

“We’ll talk about it,” Duckett told Instant Tea this morning. “Obviously we issued a very strong warning against Rawlings previously, so I can’t see him being considered, but I don’t make those decisions unilaterally. That’s up to the PAC. We’ll have to re-evaluate everything when we come back together.”

Duckett said it’s possible DGLA will request follow-up interviews with Kunkle and Rawlings, or send them another questionnaire. The warning about Rawlings could be re-issued or even rescinded, although the latter seems unlikely.

DGLA’s warning said Rawlings’ “passion for commerce and business interests supremely overwhelms his appreciation for the civil rights of all people.”

According to DGLA, the warning was based on statements Rawlings made in response to a question about requiring city contractors to have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies. In response to DGLA’s warning — which one of his prominent gay supporters called “irresponsible” and “immature” — Rawlings has adamantly denied that he would ever put economic development ahead of civil rights. But Duckett said he stands behind the warning.

“I think it was absolutely the right thing to do,” Duckett said when asked whether he’s concerned that the warning could come back to haunt the LGBT community if Rawlings, widely considered the favorite in the runoff, becomes mayor.

—  John Wright