In the final stretch of the Bexar County judge race, Democrat Peter Sakai and Republican Trish DeBerry each picked up endorsements from key members of their parties.
Speaking to reporters after his final State of the County address Wednesday, retiring Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff formally threw his support behind Sakai, for whom he hosted a fundraiser with other Democrats on the commissioners court earlier this month.
“My wife worked with him for 22 years. … I’ve worked with him. We just have a very good working relationship,” said Wolff at the event hosted by the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, pointing to the efforts Tracy Wolff and Sakai put into renovating the Children’s Court Sakai previously oversaw.
The Wolffs met with Sakai and his wife, Rachel Dias-Sakai, to discuss the county judge race over dinner last summer, before Nelson Wolff had announced his plan to retire at the end of his term.
His formal endorsement comes as the race to replace him has become more heated in the past week. DeBerry was attacked in TV and mail ads funded anonymously by dark money groups, and her attempts to tie the ads to Sakai have made their previously collegial debates less friendly.
Asked about the race at a CityFest luncheon last week, Wolff said it wasn’t “appropriate” for him to weigh in on the two candidates, but added “I’ve made my decision and I think it was a good one.”
Wolff said Wednesday that he also sat down with DeBerry before she launched her campaign, when the two were serving together on commissioners court.
Wolff said he told DeBerry he believed there was a “narrow” pathway for a Republican to win a countywide race but that she would have to overcome many obstacles in a Republican Party that’s gone to the right.
Wolff’s formal endorsement of Sakai came a day after DeBerry picked up her own high-profile endorsement from her party’s top state officeholder, Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Trish DeBerry is a respected community and business leader who has fought for taxpayers, law enforcement and public safety on the Bexar County Commissioners Court,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday. “She has the executive experience to manage Bexar County.”
The Abbott campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether he planned to fundraise or campaign with DeBerry before the Nov. 8 election. Abbott also endorsed Republican Bexar County district attorney candidate Marc LaHood on Wednesday.
Campaign finance reports covering July 1 through Sept. 29 indicate DeBerry raised $241,000 to Sakai’s $284,000. Sakai had $239,000 on hand for the final stretch of the race, while DeBerry had $169,000.