Results of Saturday’s local runoff elections across the Metroplex were mostly good news for conservative and reform-minded candidates – and a blow to Democrat-endorsed candidates.
Four of five Texas Democrat Party-endorsed local candidates across the state lost their June 10 runoff elections. Three of those losing candidates were in the Metroplex.
Dallas school board trustee Dustin Marshall’s win over Lori Kirkpatrick, who was personally endorsed by Texas Democrat Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa, was one of the biggest and most significant victories in the Metroplex.
Marshall, who’s supported by a broad coalition of education reform proponents and earned the endorsement of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, beat Kirkpatrick by an overwhelming two-to-one margin. Turnout topped 10 percent.
Kirkpatrick received her TDP endorsement primarily for supporting the interests of teachers’ unions and opposing the student-centered reforms that Marshall has worked to successfully implement as Dallas ISD’s District 2 trustee.
In another significant set of wins, conservative Plano City Council challengers Anthony Ricciardelli and Rick Smith both won their runoff races with 53 percent of the vote. Both were also endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Turnout was a relatively high 11.2 percent in the hotly contested election. Ricciardelli beat Democrat Ann Bacchus, who was endorsed and supported by the TDP via its Project LIFT program – which is aimed at electing “progressive” Democrats to non-partisan city and school offices.
Bacchus, along with Smith’s opponent David Downs, also had the backing of a PAC funded by Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere’s special-interest apartment developer donors. Ricciardelli’s win was not only a loss for Bacchus, but a loss for the Democrat Party, high-density developers, and Plano’s political establishment as well.
Project LIFT’s other Metroplex candidate, Democrat Tabassum Ahmad, lost soundly to Carl Clemencich in the Allen City Council runoff, with just 34 percent of the vote. At 7.7 percent, turnout was nearly as high as in the May 6 election.
The political establishment also took a blow in Dallas’ city council runoffs. All three incumbents had the backing of a super PAC affiliated with Democrat Mayor Mike Rawlings; two were explicitly endorsed by Rawlings. All three – Monica Alonzo, Tiffinni Young, and Erik Wilson – lost. They were replaced by Omar Narvaez, Kevin Felder, and Tennell Atkins, respectively.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s office sequestered nearly 700 mail ballots cast in the city runoffs for extra verification in the wake of its criminal investigation of potentially fraudulent mail ballots in the May 6 election.
Elsewhere in Dallas County, Carrollton voters elected Texans for Fiscal Responsibility endorsee Kevin Falconer as their new mayor by a 60 to 40 percent margin.
In conservative Collin County, McKinney’s city council runoff results were mixed. Conservative Scott Elliot bested self-identified independent Margaret Harsch, while TFR-endorsed candidates Dusttin Pearson and Derek Baker lost their runoff races. Pearson lost by a 43 to 57 percent margin to La’Shadion Shemwell, who was endorsed by the Collin County Democrat Party. Baker’s opponent Charlie Philips took 65 percent of the vote and listed among his endorsements winning mayoral candidate George Fuller plus fellow council candidates Pearson and Elliott. Turnout ranged from 5.4 to 7.8 percent.
Also in Collin County, conservative Frisco City Council candidate Brian Livingston won his runoff with 68 percent of the vote, but a dismal turnout of less than 4 percent. And proving yet again how important every vote is, especially in low-turnout runoffs, Chris George won a seat on the Murphy City Council by just 3 votes.
In Denton and Tarrant counties, results for TFR-endorsed runoff candidates were also mixed. Donald Duff won his Denton City Council Place 3 runoff, while former Mayor Pro Tem Rick Barnes narrowly lost his bid for Mayor of Keller in a runoff that drew over 13 percent turnout.
Now that Metroplex voters – at least a small percentage of them – have selected their latest local representatives, it’s up to all residents to engage in the process of local governance and hold their elected officials accountable.