Put up your dukes, bud

By David Webb Staff Writer

The mayor’s race shows signs of getting down and dirty as 1 gay candidate starts sniping at another on a blog

For me, the mayor’s race is shaping up to be a reporter’s dream.

The presence of two gay candidates in the race has already made it intriguing, but now I’ve learned a political fight is brewing between them.
Dallas lawyer Roger Herrera, who announced in July he would run, has begun taking potshots at City Councilman Ed Oakley on a blog.

Oakley, who has has acknowledged he will run, said in an interview this week he learned Herrera was on the offensive when he learned Herrera was posting remarks about him. on a Dallas blog.

That was his first knowledge of the attacks, the councilman said.

In his postings, Herrera had criticized Oakley for not increasing the city’s funding for HIV education and for being on the payroll of Caven Enterprises, a Dallas company that owns four LGBT nightclubs. Herrera wrote that Oakley was on the “liquor industry’s payroll.”

“It’s a fact that alcohol plays a huge role in our crime problem,” Herrera wrote. “Mr. Oakley seems like a huge hypocrite.”

Herrera challenged Oakley to a debate in another posting. In an interview this week, Herrera claimed Oakley had not done enough for Dallas’ homeless population (See Page 6).

Oakley, who was at first reluctant to discuss Herrera this week, said Herrera’s barbs have puzzled him. The councilman noted Herrera also sent him an e-mail saying “this means war” after a story was published in the Dallas Voice reporting Oakley would run for mayor.

“I don’t know what he is doing,” Oakley said. “I don’t know why he is angry at me. I haven’t figured any of that out.”

Oakley said there has been speculation that he might run for mayor since last summer so he can’t imagine why Herrera would be surprised by the development. Mayor Laura Miller’s decision in July not to run for re-election convinced Oakley it was a winnable seat for him.

Oakley may be mystified by the attacks, but I’m not. This is politics as usual, and it’s going to get a whole lot nastier as the May 2007 election draws nearer. All of the candidates will be clamoring for attention any way they can get it. They need to raise their name identification with voters to a higher level.

With at least another six candidates expected to run for mayor, watch for the mudslinging to start before long. I’m guessing that most of the candidates are thinking that it would look a little better if they waited until after Christmas to let loose on each other. There could be as many as four candidates from the current City Council on the ballot, and there is no better show in town than a heated council meeting in full swing.

So far, Oakley has just taken the punches and not struck back, but I bet that’s about to change. After all, the councilman has described himself as a “street fighter” in previous interviews.

I’m really grateful for this development because I was somewhat concerned with Miller not running for re-election, the whole thing could get pretty boring. But with the possibility of two gay candidates slugging it out on the horizon things are looking up. Stay tuned.

E-mail webb@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 1, 2006.

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