Odd years mean municipal elections in Texas politics, and in 2019 there are mayoral contests in the Lone Star State’s three largest cities. Before Houston’s November election, the state’s second and third largest cities — San Antonio and Dallas — hold their mayoral runoffs on Saturday.
In Big D, nine candidates competed in May to succeed current Mayor Mike Rawlings, who is term limited. No candidate reached 50 percent in the first round. Two Democrats moved on to the runoff — State Representative Eric Johnson, who ran first with 20 percent of the vote and District 1 City Council Member Scott Griggs who earned 18 percent.
Voter turnout was low in the May election, with just 80,871 ballots cast, but early voting in the runoff has shown some improvement in turnout. According to Dallas County Elections a total of 50,756 ballots have been cast so far — 3,736 by mail and 47,020 in person — a 10% increase over May. That said, only 6 percent of Dallas voters turned out for the runoff during early voting, so there is plenty of room for improvement.
In the Alamo City, the situation is a bit different. Incumbent progressive Mayor Ron Nirenberg, seeking a second term, received a surprisingly strong challenge in May. Eight challengers held Nirenberg under 50 percent (48.7), forcing a runoff against conservative Council Member Greg Brockhouse, who received 45.6 percent of the vote.
Just over 102,000 San Antonians voted for mayor in May, about 11 percent of registration, including 73,104 early and 37,261 on Election Day. Turnout during early voting for the runoff has been better. As of June 4, the end of early voting, 81,796 votes were cast. That’s a 12 percent increase from May.
There is some nervousness about the mayoral runoff among San Antonio Democrats, in light of losing a special election to Republicans last year in a Democratic state senate seat. Nirenberg should be favored, particularly in light of multiple domestic violence allegations, as reported by the San Antonio Express News, against his opponent Brockhouse.
Election Day in both Dallas and San Antonio is Saturday, June 9. Polls are open from 7am to 7pm.