The results of Bexar County’s July runoff election will stand after more than 28,500 mail-in ballots were added to the vote totals, according to the latest release from the Elections Department.
In local races, State Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated Xochil Peña Rodriguez to run for the District 19 State Senate seat, and Elizabeth “Liz” Campos won to run for Gutierrez’s vacated House District 119 seat in November. Rebeca Clay-Flores shocked incumbent Pct. 1 Commissioner Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez while Trish DeBerry defeated Tom Rickoff in the Pct. 3 commissioners race. Clay-Flores will face Republican Gabriel Lara and DeBerry will face Democrat Christine Hortick in November.
Monica Alcántara held on as Bexar County Democratic Chair as embattled Bexar County Republican Party Chair Cynthia Brehm lost to John Austin.
In Texas District 23, Tony Gonzales received just seven more votes than Raul Reyes prior to the mail-in ballot count. Reyes added 1,381 mail-in votes from Bexar County while Gonzales added almost twice that (2,451).
“We did see an increase in by-mail,” Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen said. “We gathered about 10,000 [more mail-in applications] from the primary through the runoff, which was delightful … but I’m not sure where that came from.”
Three times as many Democrats (21,540) voted by mail in the runoff than Republicans (6,999), which could be a reflection of the party divide on the coronavirus pandemic as illustrated through polling by local independent public opinion resource Bexar Facts.
In 2018, with roughly half as much overall voter turnout, there were just 3,000 more Democrat absentee ballots more than Republicans, Callanen said.
Mail-in votes were at the center of legal battles this summer as progressive groups pushed back against Republican lawmakers, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who said concerns about spreading or contracting the coronavirus – which has killed more than 4,000 people in Texas – should not qualify voters for a mail-in ballot. The Texas Supreme Court could take up the issue before the November election.
About 10 percent of registered voters made it to the polls or the mailbox during the runoff compared to 3 to 5 percent in previous runoffs, she said. Bexar County received 38,000 applications between both parties in this year compared to about 24,000 in 2018.