Race to Raise: Dallas Mayoral Race 2019, Scott Griggs vs. Eric Johnson

Voters in Dallas have selected two candidates — Texas State Representative Eric Johnson and Dallas attorney Scott Griggs — to advance to a runoff in hopes of replacing outgoing, term-limited Mayor Mike Rawlings. Johnson and Griggs emerged from a crowded field of nine candidates, but the road was neither easy nor cheap.

Here’s a look at the final two candidates, their campaign money, and how they stack up against each other based on the general election as they head into the June 8th runoff.

Dallas Mayoral Race — By the Numbers*

Eric JohnsonScott Griggs
Total Votes16,37414,901
Total Contributions$704,555$303,816
Total Number of Contributions689699
Average Contribution$1,194$437
Total Expenditures$517,176$250,981
Cost Per Vote$31.59$16.84
Cash on Hand$617,098$35,248

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson, an attorney with three Ivy League degrees, is best known as a leading Democrat in the Texas House of Representatives. In his role as State Rep., among other issues he championed full day pre-kindergarten and the removal of Confederate monuments. After running unopposed in his re-election bid in 2018, Johnson launched a short-lived bid to replace outgoing Speaker Joe Straus. As that was likely to be unsuccessful in the Republican-controlled House, he soon pivoted and launched his bid for Dallas mayor.

Although Johnson was unopposed in the general election in November, he still managed to rake in $354,996. He continued to show his fundraising chops in the mayor’s race, particularly with the Dallas business crowd. His fundraising records show donations from Darwin Deason and his son Doug Deason, of Deason Capital Services, together the largest holders of Xerox stock. Johnson also received donations from Ray Hunt of Hunt Oil and Norm Miller of Interstate Batteries, among other high-profile Dallas business executives.

Overall, Johnson was the top vote-getter in Dallas on May 4th, winning 16,374 votes, just over 20 percent of the total vote share.

Scott Griggs

Dallas attorney Scott Griggs is a graduate of Texas A&M and the University of Texas School of Law. Griggs currently serves as City Councilman in Dallas, where he has a reputation as an outsider and a naysayer to expensive public projects. As a councilman he argued for increased pay for Dallas police and firefighters. In turn Griggs won the endorsement of the Dallas Firefighters Association and the Dallas Police Association. Griggs’ top donation was $7,500 from the Dallas Firefighters Association Public Safety Committee.

He earned his spot in the runoff by edging out the third place finisher, Lynn McBee, by about 3,500 votes. Griggs received 14,901 votes on May 4th, approximately 18.5 percent of the total votes cast.

Key Takeaways from the Dallas Mayoral Race:

  1. Cash Is King.
    There’s no denying that Johnson is in a great position going into the runoff election with a 17:1 cash advantage over Griggs. His total cash-on-hand includes money in his state representative account as well as his mayor’s race account, and he can legally use money from both for the runoff. Just his city account alone boasts $259,298, a substantial advantage over Griggs’ cash-on-hand of $35,248.
  2. But Money Doesn’t Always Equal Victory.
    This mayoral race alone proves that money doesn’t always mean a win. In the race to raise campaign cash, Griggs trailed real estate developer Mike Ablon, former teacher Miguel Solis, and philanthropist Lynn McBee. In total, Ablon reported bringing in $560,181; Solis reported a total of $613,946; and third place finisher Lynn McBee reported a haul of $513,638. Griggs proved that at the end of election day, vote count is the only number that matters.
  3. Runoff Elections Tend to Favor the Underdog.
    It is not unusual, especially for a race that started with a host of candidates as this mayor’s race did, for the second place finisher in the first round to come out on top in the runoff. When voters have a choice between two rather than a group (nine candidates as in this case), they sometimes coalesce behind the underdog. Moreover, Griggs boasts more individual donors than Johnson, which is always a strong indicator of success at the polls. Despite Johnson’s strong support from the business community and his formidable war chest, don’t count Griggs out.

Before you go…

While both Johnson and Griggs are Democrats, they are racking up endorsements from different interest groups. Johnson is ahead in the race for endorsements by other politicians — he’s collected the stamp of approval from three former Dallas mayors as well as many Democratic and a few Republican colleagues from the state legislature. Griggs on the other hand has been endorsed by fellow city council members as well as environmental and LGBTQ groups.

*According to reports filed with Dallas City Hall.

Our Race to Raise series takes a deeper look at the most high-profile races in Texas, focusing specifically on money raised by those seeking to serve in public office. Join us if you’re not regularly receiving our updates.

Although Transparency Texas does not yet report data on local races, the campaign finance reports filed with Dallas City Hall may be found here.

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