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Accusations run high in Dallas mayoral race

By Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter

Dallas, TX – Bill Zeeble, KERA 90.1 reporter: Laura Miller's afternoon press conference at Republican headquarters was ostensibly to show off endorsements from Republican leaders. Many of them live in north Dallas, which is one of the hottest battlegrounds in the Dallas mayor's runoff. But although it started that way, the meeting soon turned nasty. Miller was asked, as she had been last Sunday, whether she'd offered a deal to losing candidate Domingo Garcia in exchange for his endorsement. Garcia said she had, but that he turned her down. Miller denied the incident, then at yesterday's press conference, was asked why Garcia might be lying.

Laura Miller, Dallas mayor candidate: I think if you were to look into Mr. Garcia's background, you would find he does this on a regular basis.

Zeeble: An hour later, when Tom Dunning put his own Republican backers on display at party headquarters, he countered Miller.

Tom Dunning, Dallas mayoral candidate: I've never known Domingo to say anything untruthful to me.

Zeeble: This whole controversy goes back to election night when Garcia-backer and campaign aide Adelfa Callejo said on Spanish language radio that Garcia's campaign debts, along with financial support for his next statehouse race, would be part of the negotiation for his endorsement. Again, Laura Miller.

Miller: 12-15 hours later, Domingo, Dunning, and Adelfa Callejo stood up at an endorsement conference to announce that this negotiation had apparently taken place and that the endorsement was being made. Now, what do you deduce from that? Was I in the meeting? No, I was not. I don't know what kind of deal was cut. But I'd like to know, where's Tom? He needs to explain how is it that he got Domingo Garcia's endorsement. What did he agree to do? He obviously agreed to do something because when I tried to talk to Domingo on principle, the door was closed, it had already been, and the deal was done.

Zeeble: Dunning denied, as he has before, that any deal was cut or even broached.

Dunning: It was never raised with me. Never discussed with me. If there had been a quid pro quo, I'd say no deal. No deals at all.

Zeeble: Miller said Garcia's accusations had slandered both her and husband, state representative Steve Wolens. And that Dunning was tied to it.

Miller: Tom Dunning is running the most despicable, unethical campaign I have ever seen in Dallas, Texas and it wasn't necessary. Unfortunately, he has nothing specific to say. So he is using mean, negative ads and doing dirty deals to get endorsements, and I don't appreciate that.

Zeeble: Miller referred to the incident as Dunning-gate, which Tom Dunning could only laugh at.

Dunning: That is the biggest joke I've heard of. It's just wrong. She needs to be looking at the charges against her.

Zeeble: As for Miller calling his campaign despicable, Dunning couldn't make any sense of that either.

Dunning: The only thing we've done is to show her, her words, her comments, while serving on the city council. This is why she only has one person on the city council supporting her. She attacks people, not problems. She has to call people names.

Zeeble: State House representative Domingo Garcia was unavailable for comment, and was reportedly out of town. For KERA 90.1, I'm Bill Zeeble.