DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Three former Dallas Mayors Ron Kirk, Tom Leppert and Steve Bartlett are endorsing Democratic State Representative Eric Johnson in the runoff election against veteran Council Member Scott Griggs.

Johnson and Griggs emerged Saturday night from a crowded Dallas Mayor’s race featuring nine candidates.

CBS 11 reached out to former Mayor Laura Miller to see if she will endorse either mayoral candidate, but we didn’t hear back.

She lost her bid Saturday to unseat District 13 Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates and return to City Hall.

Two of the seven other mayoral candidates who ran this year, Regina Montoya and Mike Ablon announced Monday they will remain neutral and won’t endorse either candidate.

Eric Johnson and Scott Griggs (CBS 11)

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says Johnson, who has raised more money than Griggs, is favored to win.

“I think it starts with a significant advantage to Eric Johnson. He has the support across the city – the southern sector, the northern sector, he got downtown money, establishment endorsements,” said Jillson.

In an interview Sunday, Griggs touted his leadership, experience, and results during his eight years on the council and says that will help him build support. “Continue getting out, reaching voters, running a very strong grassroots campaign that has the support throughout the city of Dallas.”

Griggs said Dallas has enough fancy projects and wants to focus on the basics. “Taking care of police officers, our firefighters, first responders, taking care of our parks, streets, and rec centers. That’s so important to me.”

Johnson said he favors balancing big projects and improving neighborhoods. “I don’t think it’s as simple as saying everything that’s not a pothole is a vanity project or everything that’s not fixing a street is a boondoggle. We need to have a certain amount of big dreams and ideas.”

Jillson said “Quality of life, livable neighborhoods worked for Laura Miller, but she’s the only one it worked for. Normally, Mayors of Dallas have had to balance big projects.”

One potential problem for Johnson, Jillson said, is that he is back in Austin, where the legislative session is in its final month.

Jillson said that will make it more difficult for Johnson to campaign at home in Dallas. “I think what he’ll have to do, he’ll have to let some of the stuff in Austin slip if this is the job he wants.”

CBS 11 asked Johnson about the situation Sunday. “I’m going to have to work extra hard to make sure that I’m vigorously campaigning here, but I’m also in Austin, doing the job taxpayers paid me to do.”

Among the most coveted endorsements is from the Dallas Police Association, which has 4,000 active and retired members.

The organization’s President Mike Mata said the group will announce its decision soon.