Unless you count the underground rumblings (and I do)
The mayoral election is just five months away, yet there has been very little news surrounding it.
We’ve got one candidate, Jim Moore, and he is (as even he will admit) relatively unknown. That so little has happened so close to the election — even a local election — is increasingly rare. It seems that as soon as one election ends, the campaign starts for the next one.
Yet the mayoral campaign hasn’t started yet, and the reason is simple: The two leading candidates haven’t said whether they’re going to run. Mayor Park Cities has been acting so coy for so long about running for reelection that I half expect someone to cast him as the ingénue in a Broadway play, and then he can flitter his eyebrows for the run of the show. Meanwhile, M Streets councilwoman Angela Hunt, who is thought to be the leading anti-Leppert candidate, hasn’t said anything, either.
Because, as long as Leppert and Hunt haven’t said what they’re going to do, no one else is going to say what they’re going to do, either. It’s kind of silly to say you’re going to run for mayor, spend a lot of time and money, and then watch as everyone ignores you after the incumbent and his arch-enemy say they’re going to run.
Complicating matters further is that Leppert and his cronies in the city’s ruling elite have already designated the mayor’s successor if Leppert decides not to run. He’s Mike Rawlings, the former Pizza Hut chief executive who became president of the Dallas Park Board last year. I met Rawlings years ago (though I doubt he’ll remember being interviewed by a reporter for a trade magazine), and he’s Leppert Mark II, though without the mayor’s charm — and yes, I’m being facetious.
In other words, Rawlings, if he runs instead of Leppert, will have Leppert’s political and financial support, so it would be more or less like running against Leppert.
So is Leppert going to run? I think so, even if he doesn’t especially want to be mayor any more. For one thing, Leppert has done most of what he set out to do, including winning the Trinity and hotel referendums. For another, he suffered his first major defeat when the council voted to raise the property tax rate in August, and he probably doesn’t want to have to deal with any more rebellion like that.
But if Leppert runs, it will be mostly because it doesn’t look like there are any jobs that fit the high-flying profile he has created for himself, and not just because Kay Bailey Hutchison is going to be a senator for at least another couple of years. Which, of course, is the job for which Leppert has been angling since he was elected mayor.
But the main reason there isn’t anything else for him to do is that the Republican party lurched rightward while Leppert was mayor. Leppert has been a Chamber of Commerce Republican, which means he cares more about doing bidness than about ideology. But these days, ideology is the currency of the GOP, and Leppert’s record as mayor is not very Tea Party. He spends money, for one thing, and his stance on social issues is remarkably progressive. The city of Dallas offers insurance to unmarried partners; how will that play with the new GOP?
That leaves only one other question: Will Hunt run? I haven’t much thought so, if only because she is a new mother, and who has a baby a year before running for mayor? But I keep seeing signs that she may run anyway, including a high-dollar fundraiser in November. “Thank you, Angela, for giving all of Dallas a voice,” read the invitation, and that seems a bit much for someone who is running only for reelection to the council.
So good luck to anyone else who wants to run for mayor. I think you’ll need it.
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