IssuesLocal NewsNirenberg Wins Tight Runoff Race to Remain San Antonio Mayor

The incumbent mayor won a very close runoff race on Saturday as San Antonio continues to face scrutiny over its actions regarding Chick-fil-A.
June 9, 2019
Incumbent San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg won the runoff election Saturday.

Nirenberg won with roughly 51 percent of the vote to challenger Greg Brockhouse’s 49 percent. Incumbent mayors have won every race but one in the past 22 years.

While ostensibly a nonpartisan race, Nirenberg is known to be an ally to some key progressive causes. This includes championing a city-wide climate change proposal called the Climate Action & Adaptation Plan (CAAP) — more or less a local version of the much-discussed “Green New Deal.”

Nirenberg previously unseated Ivy Taylor in a 2017 runoff to become mayor, winning by a margin of almost 10 points. Saturday’s very close runoff race may have policy implications for Nirenberg’s tenure going forward.

San Antonio has been in the national spotlight ever since its city council decided to exclude Chick-fil-A from the San Antonio International Airport on the basis of that company’s alleged “anti-LGBTQ legacy.”

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Mayor Ron Nirenberg stood by the city council’s decision, citing economic reasons, specifically the fact that Chick-fil-A is not open on Sundays while visitors are traveling through the airport.

But mayoral challenger Greg Brockhouse, also a member of the San Antonio City Council, vocally opposed the decision and filed a motion to have the city reconsider the contract exclusion.

Regarding the Chick-fil-A exclusion, Brockhouse told The Texan, “It was a terrible decision and I think it’s opened the eyes of families here in San Antonio. It has shown the disconnect between them and city hall; values they reflect are not reflected at city hall.”

Nirenberg outraised and outspent Brockhouse from the very beginning of the election cycle, and many local outlets claimed the race should have ended on May 4. However, the drama and developments since the March Chick-fil-A decision arguably kept Brockhouse in the race.

At the end of May, Nirenberg had raised nearly three times as much as Brockhouse heading into today’s runoff election with reports of outside groups dropping nearly half a million dollars on the race.

The San Antonio City Council’s antagonism toward Chick-fil-A led the Texas Legislature to pass a bill last month to prevent state and local government entities from punishing businesses simply for their religious or charitable contributions. LGBT activists claim the bill perpetuates discrimination.

Supporters argue the legislation simply undergirds and reinforces constitutionally protected First Amendment rights.

In the aftermath, both Attorney General Ken Paxton and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Civil Rights have opened investigations into the city council’s actions.

The attorney general’s office revealed on Monday that the city is refusing to comply.

It remains to be seen how Saturday’s election results will affect the ongoing state and federal investigation into the city’s actions.


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Tony Guajardo

Tony Guajardo is a reporter for The Texan. He has been involved in politics since the fall of 2012 when he served as an intern for the now-retired U.S. Congressman Charlie Gonzalez (D-San Antonio). He is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University.