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And then there were two....

By Suzanne Sprague

DALLAS – Laura Miller, Dallas mayoral candidate: Guys, I have great news. With 100% of the vote counted, we have had a huge victory tonight.

Suzanne Sprague, KERA 90.1 Reporter: Well, that depends on how you define victory.

Miller: We are 49%, to 39% for our opponent. We have a ten point lead, and it is wonderful.

Sprague: But it was also just a couple thousand votes shy of an outright win for Laura Miller. Her opponent, Tom Dunning, went on the offensive in the last few weeks of the campaign with ads and mailings that portrayed the former journalist and councilwoman as acerbic and uncooperative. However, Miller's advisor, Rob Allyn, says his candidate won't go negative in the runoff.

Rob Allyn, political consultant, Laura Miller campaign: I mean, there's an old saying from General Sun Tzu, the great "Art of War" strategist: Never interrupt an enemy in the process of destroying himself. And, Tom Dunning with these negative smear ads - $2 million worth of negative campaigning from him - and she still comes out the big winner, so there's no way we're going to change what's working.

Sprague: But the general also said compliments are a sure sign that the enemy wants a truce.

Miller: I also want to compliment Domingo Garcia, whose candidacy enabled probably the largest Hispanic voter turnout in a municipal election in Dallas. And we look forward to all of his supporters joining our wonderful campaign.

Sprague: Miller began courting the Hispanic vote immediately, after eleven percent of yesterday's ballots went to State Representative Domingo Garcia.

Domingo Garcia, Dallas mayoral candidate: We're going to be the deciding factor over who the next mayor of Dallas is. And let me tell you, he or she better make sure that everybody's included at the Dallas family table.

Sprague: Garcia did not throw his support to either Miller or Dunning last night. And other Hispanic leaders, like attorney Adelfa Callejo, say they're not sure whom they'll back in the runoff election.

Adelfa Callejo, Attorney: Laura Miller has been on the council, and the numbers of Hispanic employees has not increased nor the contract - nor the appointments to boards and commissions. We'll just have to look at her record, and also, Tom Dunning's record of civic involvement in the community.

Sprague: Rene Martinez, a one-time Garcia supporter who worked for Dunning in this election, predicted Hispanic voters would be more likely to support Dunning, but he acknowledged it would be a tough coalition to build.

Rene Martinez, Activist: Historically, it's challenging in the minority community to come out and vote in runoffs. We'll have to have a targeted strategy, an intense campaign.

Sprague: Dunning did not directly court the Hispanic vote during his speech last night. He did say the runoff election would be a whole new campaign. However, he didn't offer much of a glimpse into what that new campaign would mean.

Tom Dunning, Dallas mayoral candidate: Let's tell Dallas we need a conservative approach to budgeting, management and to problem solving. Let's tell Dallas we will fix the basics, and we will plan for the future.

Sprague: Voters will decide that future on February 16th. For KERA 90.1, I'm Suzanne Sprague.