Rawlings, Kunkle head into runoff for Dallas mayor

David Kunkle and Mike Rawlings

After a bitter battle, Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle are heading into a runoff to be the next mayor of Dallas, beating out Ron Natinksy, who came in third, and Edward Okpa who trailed far behind the other three candidates.

Rawlings came out with almost 40.87 percent of the vote, and was supported in large part by the same people who supported former Mayor Tom Leppert: Dallas’ business elite, a few people from the “Southern sector” (as Rawlings would say) and even a few of Dallas’ religious figures. This large following helped him greatly, since most people outside of that circle had no idea who he was until he entered the race.

David Kunkle, the former Dallas police chief, nabbed 31.93 percent of the vote, coming in second. Kunkle focused on neighborhood issues throughout the race, and cited his success as police chief as a main reason why he should get the votes of Dallas citizens. Crime in Dallas has gone down significantly, and Kunkle wasn’t hesitant to take credit for it, gaining popularity among neighborhood leaders and activists throughout Dallas. His name recognition among voters was a huge pull for him, and he was able to fundraise successfully because voters associated his name with a safer Dallas.

Natinsky, on the other hand, suffered from lack of name recognition with Dallas voters, coming in at 25.08 percent. He may have a stunning record on City Council, but he was unable to translate that with the voters of Dallas. Not to mention that his Republican schtick was probably not as welcome as he assumed in a city that is gradually fading to pure blue.

He did much better than Okpa, though, who took a mere 2.12 percent of the vote. This was Okpa’s third attempt at running for mayor – none have been very successful. He pulled 1,999 votes in 2003, 429 in 2007 and now only 1,471 this year, never passing the 3 percent marker (is that really a marker?). The fact that he declared his candidacy at the last possible second clearly hurt him, but he also didn’t have a very effective campaign. There was little outreach, and he suffered greatly from the lack of name recognition. He’s really done some great things in Dallas, but for whatever reason he was unable to make voters realize how those projects affected them.

As far as going forward, I think Rawlings should feel pretty good about his chances. I don’t think he’ll have a hard time swinging those people that voted for Natinsky, and even if those people are split, his near 10 point lead is a comfortable cushion.

I, like Mike Hashimoto of the Dallas Morning News, think that Kunkle needs to avoid joint speaking events with Rawlings like the plague. I found out first hand at the debate The Daily Campus hosted with KTVT that Rawlings simply outspeaks Kunkle. Kunkles lack of stage presence compared to Rawling’s star stage personality makes it so that Rawlings appears to be beating Kunkle regardless of what they are saying. Anything that would allow people to compare them side by side is not a good move for Kunkle. He needs to try to woo over Natinsky’s voters on his own at his own events, that’s really his only chance of pulling this thing out.

Posted by on May 15, 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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