On Friday, Democratic State Representative Mike Villarreal became the first candidate to officially declare his intention to run for Mayor of San Antonio in 2015. Mayor Julian Castro resigned last month after he was confirmed by the US Senate to be the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
The San Antonio city council elevated Council-member Ivy Taylor to stand in as the interim Mayor until the regularly scheduled election on May 11 of next year. Mayor Taylor, San Antonio’s first African American Mayor, is unlikely to run for a full term in the May election.
San Antonio has a history of electing socially-progressive and business friendly Democrats, such as Julian Castro and Henry Cisneros; and Rep. Mike Villarreal feels he could continue that inclusive style of governing in the 2015 open-seat election.
The election is currently scheduled for May 11 of next year, when the Texas legislature is still in session. While there is no rule against members running for a municipal position while holding state office — Rep. Sylvester Turner has run for Mayor of Houston twice in the past and is rumored to do so again next fall — because San Antonio hosts their elections while the legislature is in session, it would be easy to make the case Rep. Villarreal would be derelict in his duties to the constituents of House District 123 as he spends his time campaigning in San Antonio rather than taking votes in Austin.
Because of this, Rep. Villarreal announced on Friday he would resign from the legislature at the conclusion of the November General Election.
Rep. Villarreal is running unopposed this year; no Republican, Green, or Libertarian will be available to take advantage of the campaign narrative of running against a “lame-duck” incumbent. It is expected Governor Perry will announce a special election for District 123 shortly after November 4, with an election likely to occur in December or January.
As voters from North Austin or southeast Texas will recall from earlier this year, Texas hosts “jungle-style primaries” for our special elections. Everyone of all partisanships will run in a single primary. If someone receives over fifty percent of the vote, the election ends and that person is elected. If no one receives over fifty percent of the vote, the top two finishers, even if they are of the same political party, will advance to a runoff election.
District 123 is one of ten Texas House Districts located within Bexar County and includes a majority of downtown San Antonio. I-10 makes up a majority of the southern and western borders while the eastern border roughly follows 281. The district stretches north, with the northern border occurring just past 410. The District is safely Democratic, President Obama received 61.2% of the vote in 2012 and the district is 76.4% minority in the demographic makeup.
While it is not known who will file for the special election of District 123, it is likely the new Representative will be a Hispanic Democrat.
While San Antonio is a city which favors Democrats, Texans should remember in 2007, after Democrats completed their first county sweep of Dallas, Republican Tom Leppert went on to win the open-seat for Mayor by running as a business friendly moderate while appealing towards conservative African-Americans, referencing his openly gay opponent, Democrat Ed Oakley. It is not known who else will run of Mayor besides Rep. Villarreal. What is known is Sen. Leticia Van de Putte will not be a candidate for San Antonio Mayor in 2015, no matter happens this November.
Candidates have until 5:00 on March 1, 2015 to file for Mayor or City Council in San Antonio. For any race where a candidate does not receive fifty percent of the vote on May 11, 2015, the top two finishers will continue on to a June 15, 2015 runoff.
For more background on the race for San Antonio Mayor, I would encourage readers to read the op-ed by Rick Casey for the San Antonio Express-News on July 11 where he declares Rep. Villareal the front runner and explains the thinking behind several members of the San Antonio business community.
You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.