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Dallas Mayoral Candidates Prepare For Runoff Election

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The remaining Dallas mayoral candidates, former DPD Chief David Kunkle, left, and former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings.

The remaining Dallas mayoral candidates, former DPD Chief David Kunkle, left, and former Pizza Hut CEO Mike Rawlings.

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After the list of candidates for Dallas mayor shrunk from four to two this weekend, remaining candidates Mike Rawlings and David Kunkle wasted no time jumping back on the campaign trail.

A candidate needed to gain 50 percent of the vote Saturday to avoid a runoff.

Rawlings, former CEO of Pizza Hut and the city’s previous homeless czar, led the race with 41 percent of the vote. Kunkle, the former Dallas chief of police, trailed with 32 percent of the vote. City Councilman Ron Natinsky finished third with 25 percent of the vote and businessman Edward Okpa earned two percent.

On Sunday, Rawlings went to church with his mother and greeted voters there while Kunkle attended a morning breakfast.

“What we’ve got to do is make sure we continue talking about the same messages that got us here: Economic growth, making sure we have strong neighborhoods, making sure the city comes together,” Rawlings said Sunday.

During a watch party on election night at the San Francisco Rose on Greenville Ave., Kunkle reflected on his campaign spending and his plan for the runoff.

“I will need to raise more money, I think I was outspent 10 to one in this race,” Kunkle said Saturday. “I’m going to raise money and run a hard campaign for the next five weeks.”

Political analyst John Weekley called the runoff election unpredictable, and noted that the underdog tends to work harder than the frontrunner.

“It’s an interesting phenomenon of elections that second place finishes frequently finish first in the runoff,” Weekley said.

Part of the runoff result may come from which candidate Natinsky supporters side with. While the councilman didn’t secure enough votes to enter the runoff, he easily carried his North Dallas district.

“You want every advantage you can get, and that would certainly be an advantage to get his vote,” Weekley said.

Also, a big challenge for Kunkle will be raising the money needed to carry his campaign for another five weeks.

“Start the campaign all over again; raise money, appeal to voters, get my message out throughout the city,” Kunkle said. “We were at our victory – or celebration – party last night until 1 a.m. and got up at seven to start today with the campaign. There won’t be any breaks for the next five weeks.”

Rawlings said he plans to stress the same issues that helped him take the majority of votes during Saturday’s election. He said he will keep campaigning until the end.

“This is my first time to be in politics, so I wasn’t expecting anything,” Rawlings said. “I was expecting to work hard, talk to people, get reactions, then look up at the end of the first half and get the score.”

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