Money is flowing in the Dallas mayoral race now that the jumbled nine-person field has been narrowed down to a two-person runoff between City Council member Scott Griggs and Democratic state Rep. Eric Johnson.
In just 31 days, Griggs gathered more in donations than he had leading up to the general election — a race in which Johnson more than doubled the north Oak Cliff council member’s fundraising tallies.
But Johnson, who has the support of major business and political leaders, raised more funds than Griggs between April 25 and May 26. The state representative hauled in $846,940 in monetary and in-kind contributions — bringing his fundraising total since he entered the race to more than $1.55 million. Griggs received $310,795 in donations during the recent stretch.
Griggs was able to tout that he had more donors. His total came from 706 individual contributions — nearly 200 more contributions than Johnson received.
Griggs said that he was “very proud” of his fundraising.
“We’ve received a huge number of campaign contributions that were small in size, $5, $10,” Griggs said. “And we’re proud of that support that we’ve received.”
Included in Griggs’ contributions were 22 maximum $5,000 donations. Many of those donors had already endorsed or contributed to his general election campaign. They included former Texas Secretary of State David Dean, retired tech consultant Michael Veale, D Magazine publisher Wick Allison, and former Trammell Crow CEO Don Williams and his wife, Ellen.
As expected, Griggs also picked up some new maximum donations along the way, including businessman and philanthropist Jorge Baldor — who had supported Dallas ISD trustee Miguel Solis’ mayoral campaign and bankrolled a leadership nonprofit with Solis at the helm.
Over 60% of Johnson’s runoff contributions came from maximum donations.
A glance at Johnson’s 98 $5,000 individual donations showed a who’s who in Dallas-area businesses, including: IStation CEO Dick Collins and two daughters, Genevieve and Calvert, who serves on the city’s Park Board, and Calvert’s husband, Vincent Bratton; George Seay, an investment management CEO and former adviser to Rick Perry’s and Marco Rubio’s presidential campaigns; video surveillance storage CEO Ron Nash and his wife, Susan; energy CEO Trevor Pearlman and his wife, Elaine; insurance brokerage CEO and former Dallas mayoral candidate Tom Dunning and his wife, Sally; several members of the Hunt family, including Hunt Consolidated executive chairman Ray Hunt; telecom billionaire Kenny Troutt and his wife, Lisa; real estate developer Ross Perot Jr.; and wealth management president Doug Deason.
Johnson also received large donations from several politicians, including Dallas City Council member Lee Kleinman, former state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, former state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, and DISD trustee Dustin Marshall.
“I’m grateful for the overwhelming support we’ve received from elected Dallas leaders, but I am not taking anything for granted, and neither should my supporters,” Johnson said in a news release. “This is a grassroots campaign that will be won through the tireless efforts of our volunteers and voters. We are working hard for every vote.”
Griggs received donations from his political allies too, including fellow council members Omar Narvaez, Adam Medrano and Sandy Greyson; his successor to the District 1 seat, Chad West; former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez; state Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos, D-Dallas; and former DISD trustee Audrey Pinkerton.
As he did during the general election, Johnson raised significant funds from political action committees and limited liability companies. Such donations are legal in Texas.
Johnson reported $11,500 from LLCs and $82,750 in donations from PACs, including maximum $10,000 contributions from PACs affiliated with The Real Estate Council, Texas Instruments, law firms Orrick and Haynes & Boone, the MetroTex Association of Realtors and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas.
Griggs gathered $27,500 from PACs, including donations from the Sierra Club of Texas and the AFL-CIO. His lone maximum $10,000 contribution from a PAC came from the Dallas Firefighters Association’s Public Safety Committee.
Griggs spent nearly as much as he raised in the runoff period, with $302,955 in political expenditures. About $100,000 of that went to a direct mail effort.
Johnson spent $549,356 in the month leading up to Election Day, bringing his campaign’s spending total to over $1 million.
City Council races
The mayor’s race isn’t the only one in which money poured in. Some candidates reported significant contributions in the four Dallas City Council races that will be determined in the runoff.
Three-time incumbent Philip Kingston is facing a stiff fight to keep his District 14 seat, which covers parts of downtown, Uptown, Oak Lawn and East Dallas.
After relying on little fundraising and a $10,000 personal loan in the general election, challenger David Blewett found significant traction in his fundraising for the runoff against Kingston. During the monthlong period, he raised $70,430 — approximately $20,000 more than he reported over two filings before the May 4 election.
Blewett nearly defeated Kingston outright in that three-person race, falling fewer than three percentage points short of the 50% needed.
Kingston, meanwhile, raised $58,830 leading up to the runoff.
The district had the highest turnout of any in the city through the first days of early voting.
In District 7 — which includes South Dallas, Far East Dallas and Buckner Terrace — voters will decide between former council member Tiffinni Young and teacher Adam Bazaldua to replace one-term incumbent Kevin Felder.
Despite her prior experience in office from 2015 to 2017, Young hasn’t seen any fundraising advantages in the runoff period.
Young raised $27,500 in campaign contributions. Bazaldua matched her, raising nearly $28,000, according to campaign finance reports.
In the race to replace Mark Clayton in District 9, Paula Blackmon — a former adviser to mayors Tom Leppert and Mike Rawlings and former DISD Superintendent Mike Miles — holds a significant fundraising advantage over Erin Moore.
Blackmon raised $60,100 in campaign contributions in the runoff, while Moore — an executive assistant for Dallas County Commissioner Theresa Daniel — raised $27,100, according to campaign finance reports.
Clayton, who announced in January he wouldn’t seek a third term on the Dallas City Council, has endorsed Moore.
In Oak Cliff’s District 4, incumbent Carolyn King Arnold is trying to win her fourth election in six months. She won back the seat, which she held from 2015 to 2017, in December in a runoff to fill the remainder of Dwaine Caraway’s term after the mayor pro tem resigned and pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges.
Arnold collected $19,750 in contributions for her latest runoff with the help of hefty donations from PACs affiliated with The Real Estate Council, the MetroTex Association of Realtors and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas.
Her challenger, city real estate manager Dawn Blair, raised $12,170 during the runoff period, matching her fundraising effort for May’s general election.