Observers expect an extremely low turn out run-off election to choose a new Dallas Mayor Saturday.
Former Pizza Hut executive Mike Rawlings finished ahead of former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle in the May general election, but neither one had the required 50 percent margin, forcing this run-off.
Third place candidate, Councilman Ron Natinksy, endorsed Rawlings for the run-off.
Early voting was far lower than the last Dallas Mayoral run-off election and the Dallas Mavericks NBA Finals and parade may have overshadowed Dallas politics, according to DallasSouthNews.org editor Shawn Williams.
“I think all of the excitement just kind of went down in the race. There’s nothing really that can match that,” said Williams.
Williams said a low turn out run off could help underdog Kunkle because fewer votes would be needed to win. Kunkle believes his supporters are more committed.
Rawlings has far more campaign money and a stronger campaign operation.
“Right now obviously Mr. Rawlings in the front runner, but Mr. Kunkle continues to have good name recognition,” said Williams.
The candidates have treated each other like gentlemen on the campaign trail without personal attacks or hateful accusations, but both said there are clear differences between them. Kunkle has promoted his police chief experience in Dallas, Arlington and Grand Prairie along with time spent as an Assistant Arlington City Manager.
“People know me. I’m not someone know who just stepped in. I have a proven track record of success,” he said.
The Kunkle campaign focused on improving neighborhoods and backing away from expensive city projects.
“If we do the little things well, then the big things will take care of themselves and when Dallas becomes a great, great place where people want to live, then we’ll see our economy boom and people in the city will prosper,” said Kunkle.
Rawlings has promoted his business experience along with his volunteer civil work for the homeless and parks.
“Chief Kunkle is a great guy but he’s a government guy. I vote that the private sector has those practices that create innovation and that’s closer to what we need,” said Rawlings.
Rawlings said he would support neighborhoods and economic growth as Mayor.
“Do we want to be a growth city, or do we want to hunker down and hope that things will get better.? Hope is not a strategy. I have an action plan,” said Rawlings.