Voting Data Shows a ‘City Divided’ Ahead of San Antonio’s Mayoral Runoff

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Melissa Cabello Havrda greets voters outside of Christian Evers Elementary School.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Signs supporting Greg Brockhouse and Ron Nirenberg are placed outside of Christian Evers Elementary School.

Bexar County Elections Department data shows that Mayor Ron Nirenberg’s support in the May 4 city elections came largely from voters in the urban core within Loop 410, while Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) performed better in suburban precincts in City Council districts with higher turnout.

Nirenberg received 48.66 percent of the total vote to Brockhouse’s 45.57 percent, with the mayor getting more votes than Brockhouse in six out of 10 Council districts: districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, and 8. A runoff is set for June 8.

“At first blush … the ultimate results show is that we have a city divided,” said political consultant Colin Strother. 

Nirenberg got just 50 percent of the vote in District 8, which he represented for four years before becoming mayor in 2017, but was able to hold onto substantial portions of District 9, where Brockhouse had 53 percent of the vote, and District 10, where the councilman claimed 52 percent. Those three North Side districts had the highest voter turnout, according to the election data.

“Mayor Nirenberg held the middle,” said Kelton Morgan, his campaign manager, referring to the city’s politically moderate population. “Shrinking as it may be at a national level, in San Antonio it still seems strong.”

Meanwhile, Brockhouse performed well in his own district, pulling in 56 percent of the District 6 vote.

“That tells you that the people [who] knew these candidates best gave a significant advantage to Greg,” said Matt Mackowiak, a consultant for the councilman’s campaign. “I think that’s pretty telling.”

Districts 2, 4, and 6 have runoff elections for their City Council seats. Nirenberg was able to gain more votes in District 2 than Brockhouse, but not a majority. Brockhouse, who used to work for a former Council member in District 4, pulled in 48 percent of that district’s vote compared to Nirenberg’s 44 percent. It’s unclear how those runoffs will impact the mayoral race, but political observers expect higher turnout in those districts.

Several precincts saw fewer than 20 voters cast ballots during the early voting period and on May 4, and there are still mail-in ballots trickling in, according to the Bexar County Elections Department.

‘Grow the Vote’

“They can spin it however they want … the fact that 52 percent voted against Nirenberg is a very bad sign,” Mackowiak said. “They’ve got a big problem in that regard.” 

Meanwhile, he said, there are still voters out there that “just don’t know who Greg is. … Now it’s a question of who can turnout that vote again” and inspire more support.

Seven other candidates on the ballot received a total of 5.76 percent of the vote. John Velasquez came in a distant third with 1.61 percent (1,643 votes) and has said that he’ll likely be supporting Nirenberg in the runoff. Tim Atwood and Antonio Diaz were also able to gather more than 1,000 votes.

“Anyone who voted against Nirenberg is a potential Brockhouse supporter,” Mackowiak said. “I don’t know where they grow the vote.”

Morgan pointed to groups backing affordable housing and transportation initiatives, the LGBTQIA community, and environmental groups as having criticized Nirenberg for not being as aggressive as they’d like in his long-term planning efforts and policies, but under Brockhouse those initiatives and policies may become weaker or disappear.

“There are numerous constituent groups we expect to be more motivated in the runoff now that it’s crystal clear what and how much is at stake,” Morgan said.

Morgan said the best way to get traditional Nirenberg constituencies out during early voting and on election day will be the old-fashioned “shoe leather” campaign – knocking on doors with a re-energized team.

16 thoughts on “Voting Data Shows a ‘City Divided’ Ahead of San Antonio’s Mayoral Runoff

  1. I voted neither Brockhouse nor Nirenberg in this first round, but instead for another candidate. I am leaning Brockhouse for the runoff. I think Nirenberg continues to take the voters for granted, and wasted a lot of time on less pressing matters while in office.

  2. Easy call- Atwood’s voters go to Brockhouse and Diaz’ go to Nirenberg. Am I the only one that talked to these guys on the campaign trail?

    • Diaz voters are likely to cast blank ballots. They see both Nirenberg and Brockhouse as establishment tools. I know, because I am one of them.

  3. One doesn’t have to think of Mayor Nirenberg as the greatest Mayor in our 300 year history – but “one trick pony” Brockhouse will definitely be among the worst.
    “Police and fire unions put over $500K in Brockhouse’s pocket so he would be in theirs. The head of the fire union was caught on tape saying the union wanted to put “our guy” Greg Brockhouse in the mayor’s office to score a lucrative contract. We deserve a mayor who will work for ALL San Antonians, not someone who can be bought and sold.”

  4. I don’t understand how someone votes for a person with so little character and think that he will somehow become a good public servant? Brockhouse had TWO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CALLS on him and has four children with four different women with levies against him for not paying child support! These events tell me everything I need to know about this man’s attitudes towards women and children as well as his sense of “male” privilege.

  5. Of course Greg will work for all San Antonians. This us against them mentality is divisive and corrosive. How can we not support our SAPD and SAFD. They are the very people that keep our city safe. Safe neighborhoods make for a safe city. Safety first!

  6. I had little interest in the elections until the recent fiasco banning Chik-Fil-A (manufactured outrage isn’t needed in the city govt) and then the Green New Deal inspired climate nonsense also recently. All of a sudden I was really interested in voting.

  7. The CFA fiasco is not a manufactured outrage. It is a clear discriminatory act from local government. Chickfila was punished for supporting the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army? This is what they said.

  8. “Behold,” said the Ghost of San Antonio’s Future. “This is what the city looks like after Mayor Brockhouse’s first term.” He pointed to closed libraries, parks in disrepair, and neighborhoods without sidewalks and garbage collection. “Alas” he explained, “the unions have runaway will all the public money.” Debt and despair had descended on the city we did not deserve.

  9. how do you conclude ANYTHING from the mayoral election. only 10% of electorate participates. what is obvious is that the mayoral and city council election rules need to be changed….have the elections on same year as State and Federal elections and have the candidates declare their affiliation with either democrat or republican. the current system is leading to more power going to small constituencies.

  10. This Tuesday, after the Saturday election, shoe leather supporters of the run off candidate were passing literature at my door step. I, as one of the 11.46 % voter turn out will cast a ballot in the Run-Off. My ballot will not be for a candidate with history of domestic violence ( thanks SAPD for deleting that official public record) or audio recording of the FU president stating ( will put are guy in the Mayor’s office). Myself, I Attended several of the COSA/FU negotiations- Can we get an UPDATE concerning the mediation sessions ( on second round)?

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