DALLAS - Nearly $2.4 million has poured into the race for Dallas mayor this year, but just one month away from the election, there is still no clear front-runner.
The last election for Dallas mayor without an incumbent was in 2011. That time around, there were only four candidates vying for the spot.
This time, there are double that, and several of them are set to square off yet again Friday night.
With that many candidates for mayor, standing out from the pack is proving to be a challenge.
“I look at it and think of a lot of the same things I went through when I ran for mayor,” former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said.
When Leppert ran for mayor in 2007, it was also a crowded field. Leppert said TV ads are what helped him develop name recognition.
“We are in a large metropolitan media market, that takes a lot of money to get the message out. TV is still a predominant vehicle to be able to get your message out and build awareness, and that's expensive in a market as large as this,” Leppert added.
So far, the candidate who has raised the most money, and has the most cash on hand, is state Representative Eric Johnson. He’s raised $524,000.
DISD School Board Trustee Miguel Solis comes in second with $415,000.
But neither Solis nor Johnson have been big spenders yet.
Real estate developer Mike Ablon has spent the most, followed by attorney Regina Montoya and philanthropist Lynn McBee.
”No one is a big leader on it. Several folks in the same category, they're going to have to raise a lot more money to make a big media splash to build that,” Leppert added.
Leppert said a lot of big donors have good reasons to hold out.
“When you don't have a lot of name awareness, you have a lot of people sitting out trying to see how they do this fall,” he said.
Leppert also said people should pay attention because their city's future is riding on it.
“To have a strong police force and strong fire department is absolutely critical to the city,” Leppert added. “Not only for you and me, but also when you try to attract businesses, build up tax base, attract people to move to our community.”
The mayoral election is Saturday, May 4.
If no candidate gets 50.01% of the vote, a runoff election will be held a month later, Saturday, June 8.