With the issue of elective abortion standing at the center of many debates in San Antonio, this race — pitting strongly Pro-Life and conservative-leaning Greg Brockhouse against progressively-minded, anti-Life incumbent, Ron Nirenberg — was an important one, characterized by close, cut-throat competition.
“San Antonio is a city divided,” commented Brockhouse, following the race. However, divisions between conservative-leaning Brockhouse and liberal-leaning Nirenberg, as well as between their two supporting coalitions, were evident before election day began.
Brockhouse and Nirenberg had repeatedly chosen opposite sides on policy issues, from issues of Life to issues surrounding firefighter union negotiations.
Their coalitions, likewise, differed markedly. Although Brockhouse was largely supported by evangelicals, firefighters, populists, and conservatives, Nirenberg found his base in Democrats, women’s groups, and progressives. Suburban voters largely favored Brockhouse; urban voters tended toward Nirenberg.
When he entered the race, anti-Life Nirenberg held several advantages. First, as the incumbent, Nirenberg held the “home field advantage.” Commenting on the race to San Antonio’s KENS 5, former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros remarked on this advantage: “To me, a lot of people were saying, ‘We’ve got problems, but you’ve got to have some continuity in order to solve them.”
In addition to incumbency, Nirenberg had more money at his disposal. Nirenberg’s campaign raised almost three times more money than did Brockhouse’s. Nonetheless, Pro-Life Brockhouse and his supporters fought Nirenberg competitively.
To describe the race as “competitive” is apropos, but “cut-throat” is more precise. Despite his own natural advantages of incumbency and money, Nirenberg slung personal attacks at Brockhouse and his family. Commenting on the attacks, Brockhouse stated, “I hope that this never happens again for any family because we went through hell.”
The polarized atmosphere of the campaign reached startling proportions when graffiti declaring “SAFD in bed” was found on the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association’s building — a slight against Brockhouse’s past work as a consultant for San Antonio’s firefighter unions. Additionally, vandalism reading “San Antonio Police and fire in bed with Brockhouse” was spray-painted outside of a local church. 65-year-old Mark Garrett has been arrested for the latter offense.
Given this intensively divisive atmosphere, the June 8 election day was hotly anticipated. After early voting, Nirenberg led Brockhouse by 2,775 votes, requiring Brockhouse to garner about 55% of election day votes in order to secure a win. For a couple of hours on election day, Brockhouse held a hopeful 52-53% of the votes.
Unfortunately, a late surge of votes granted victory to Nirenberg, who held 51% of votes over Brockhouse’s 49%. Prior to the late surge of votes, the margin had been a mere 1.44 points. More than 30,000 voters cast ballots on election day, and the final result was decided by a minuscule 2,500 votes.
Though election results proved disappointing, the race was impressively close. Given that Pro-Life Brockhouse almost won the mayoral race, a Pro-Life San Antonio might be possible in the near future.
Pro-Life San Antonians should not lose heart.
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