Mayor Ron Nirenberg
Mayor Ron Nirenberg reports raising nearly $330,000 in campaign contributions between April 25 and May 29. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg raised nearly $330,000 in campaign contributions, far outpacing the haul of his June 8 runoff opponent, Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who pulled in nearly $115,000, according to campaign finance reports filed Friday.

The report covers contributions made from April 25 through May 29. After campaign expenses, Nirenberg has a little more than $95,500 on hand heading into the final weekend before the runoff election. Brockhouse has a little more than $28,500 remaining after expenses.

In the previous month-long reporting period ahead of the May 4 election, Nirenberg out-raised Brockhouse by more than $100,000.

During the 2017 runoff election, when then-Councilman Nirenberg defeated then-Mayor Ivy Taylor, Nirenberg had raised $247,704, according to his report filed eight days before the election. Taylor had raised $286,809.

The police and firefighters unions, which have endorsed Brockhouse, are spending a significant amount of money and resources on campaign materials, such as mailers and signage, and block-walking on his behalf.

For his part, Nirenberg has received endorsements from the Texas Organizing Project and other progressive groups that have spent money and time on the ground supporting his campaign.

Unlike candidates for public office, political action committees are not required to file campaign finance reports eight days before an election. The next deadline for PACS to file their reports with the Texas Ethics Commission is June 5.

Nirenberg has received monetary contributions from 637 individuals so far in the runoff election, compared to 812 donors ahead of the first round of voting.

Brockhouse had 121 contributors, according to 30- and 8-day reports ahead of the general election, but 40 of those transactions occurred before he formally announced his intentions to run for mayor on Feb. 9 (when he was still running for a second City Council term in District 6). That would bring his total to 81 contributors for the general election compared to 141 so far for the runoff.

Contributors – groups and individuals – are allowed to give up to $1,000 per election cycle, so donors who contributed the maximum before the first round of voting are allowed to give that much again for a runoff election.

The wide disparity in monetary contributions and number of contributors says a lot, Nirenberg said.

“That says to me that Greg Brockhouse is, has been, and will be a shill for the two public safety unions while we continue to run grassroots campaign that represents the broad and diverse community of San Antonio,” Nirenberg told the Rivard Report on Friday.

Nirenberg has the advantage of incumbency, said Brockhouse, adding he was not surprised that the mayor raised and spent more than him.

“People, generally speaking, have a strong incumbent policy in spite of [Nirenberg’s] complete and total lack of accomplishment,” Brockhouse said. “That’s just how the political system and the political class works in San Antonio.”

“I raised [less than] half of what he did and achieved more than he did,” he added. “I’ve only been on City Council for two years. … To even be in this position is unheard of.”

Greg Brockhouse (right) shakes Iris Dimmick's hand.
Mayoral candidate Greg Brockhouse reports campaign contributions of $115,000 from April 25 to May 29. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

The councilman has said that his close relationship with the police and fire unions (he worked for them before seeking elected office) does not mean he won’t put the residents of San Antonio first when it comes to the ongoing labor contract negotiations with the firefighters. If anything, Brockhouse has said, he would be an “asset” to the process and bring “respect” to the negotiating table.

Voter turnout for the runoff has been strong since early voting began Tuesday, nearly doubling compared to early voting in the May 4 election. Polling locations will be open through Saturday, closed Sunday, and open again from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday, June 4.

Nirenberg attributes that to a kind of complacency in the first round.

“There was a sense that San Antonio is doing very well, people like the direction and the progress of the city, and there was sort of a lackadaisical sort of feeling,” Nirenberg said. “May 5 everyone woke up to the reality that if we’re going to continue progress in our city … we have to work at it every single day.”

Brockhouse said the higher turnout favors him as a challenger.

“I see it as a positive,” he said. “Ron Nirenberg’s voters aren’t energized, they’re angry.”

The contentious campaign has grown even more vitriolic in recent weeks. Brockhouse criticized Nirenberg for launching personal attacks based on domestic violence allegations and running a “gutter campaign to try to save his job.”

A campaign mailer sent out this week by the police union slams Nirenberg for accumulating what it said was $3 million in campaign contributions from “special interest groups, lobbyists, PACs, and fat cats,” but the mailer combines donations to Nirenberg’s mayoral campaign with money that a PAC called Secure San Antonio’s Future raised to fund a Go Vote No campaign against three fire union-backed propositions on the November ballot. That money, more than $1 million, was not used for Nirenberg’s re-election campaign.

On Friday, Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce who also participated in the Go Vote No campaign, sent out a press release criticizing what he called the “grossly misleading content” of the mailer.

“While Mayor Nirenberg did lead the focus on the campaign against the three city charter amendments that were at the center of the November 2018 election, it is not on the ballot for this upcoming run-off election,” Perez stated. “Distinguishing time frames and what is actually on the ballot is the only honest approach. Conflating the campaigns and misconstruing where the listed entities designated their funds is blatantly false and offensive.”

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at