Race to Raise: San Antonio Mayoral Race 2019, Greg Brockhouse vs. Ron Nirenberg

On May 4, 2019, residents of San Antonio cast their votes to elect their next mayor, whittling a crowded race among nine candidates down to just two. Incumbent Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Councilman Greg Brockhouse emerged far ahead of the rest of the field to advance to a runoff on June 8. Nirenberg won 49 percent of the vote, while Brockhouse won 46 percent. The remaining seven candidates in this nonpartisan race each won less than one percent of the votes cast.

As Nirenberg and Brockhouse brace for the runoff election this Saturday, here’s a look at the candidates, their campaign money, and how they stack up against each other.

Ron Nirenberg

In 2017, Nirenberg defeated then-incumbent Ivy Taylor, who was the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of any major U.S. city. Nirenberg ran to her left and helped oust her with help from San Antonio’s LGBTQ community.

Nirenberg was hoping to easily secure a second term, but his tenure and reelection has not been without conflict. Nirenberg ruffled feathers among conservative voters in the community when he worked to prevent San Antonio from bidding to be a host site for the 2020 Republican National Convention. He again stoked conservative opposition when he helped to ban Chick-Fil-A from the San Antonio airport. Nirenberg defended his position on the City Council decision by claiming, “There are many people in the community that are uncomfortable with Chick-Fil-A,” and that the restaurant’s values did not comport with the city’s message of inclusion.

Greg Brockhouse

An outspoken and sometimes controversial candidate, Greg Brockhouse has served as a San Antonio City Councilman since 2017. His mayoral campaign gained traction when he attempted to overturn the ban on Chick-Fil-A. His effort failed by a vote of 6-5 with Mayor Nirenberg voting against Chick-Fil-A.

Brockhouse’s campaign, however, has been marred by allegations of a police report responding to a domestic abuse call in 2009. Both Brockhouse and his wife have denied the abuse and have suggested that Nirenberg may be behind the allegation.

San Antonio Mayoral Race — By the Numbers*

Ron NirenbergGreg Brockhouse
Total Votes49,29746,129
Total Contributions$284,233$80,910
Total Number of Contributions552128
Average Contribution$515$632
Total Expenditures$514,895$71,923
Cost Per Vote$10.44$1.56
Cash on Hand$87,903$11,455

Key Takeaways from the San Antonio Mayoral Race:

  1. Brockhouse Runs An Efficient Campaign.
    Nirenberg raised more than three times the amount Brockhouse took in, and outspent Brockhouse 7:1. However, Nirenberg’s spending did not have a recognizable impact on the vote share, with the incumbent pulling in only 3168 votes (a measly 3.3 percent) more than Brockhouse.
  2. The Realtors Help Nirenberg.
    You might be surprised to find that the Texas Realtors PAC, funded largely by realtors’ membership dues, is the most well-funded and arguably the most powerful political PAC in Texas. The Realtors typically use their PAC to support liberal Republicans and Democrats who are running for statewide offices as well as the Texas House and Senate. It’s somewhat surprising to see them get involved in a municipal election, but they donated $1000 (the maximum allowed in a mayor’s race) to Nirenberg.
  3. Police and Firefighters Unions Back Brockhouse; Leftist Organizing Group Helps Nirenberg.
    In addition to endorsing Brockhouse, the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Political Action Committee reported over $23,000 in independent expenditures (typically ads or get-out-the-vote efforts) to help Brockhouse. Far left group Texas Organizing Project PAC is lending support to Nirenberg.

Before you go…

While the San Antonio mayoral race, like many municipal races, is classified as a nonpartisan election, the parties have certainly picked sides. The Texas Democratic Party has endorsed Nirenberg. The Republican Party of Bexar County and the Alamo City Republican Women’s Club have both endorsed Brockhouse.

Residents of San Antonio will know by Saturday night whether Nirenberg’s sizable cash advantage can help him hold on to his job as mayor, or whether the Chick-Fil-A kerfuffle is enough to motivate more conservative-minded voters to elect Brockhouse.

*According to reports filed with San Antonio City Hall.

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