Another brief window of campaigning will end the last race – so far – to fill the unexpired House terms of members who have been promoted to the Senate or statewide office, who resigned to run for another office or who chose to serve in a senior staff capacity at a state agency. The campaign for HD124 was so abbreviated that fewer than 2,000 people voted in the four-way race, marking the lowest turnout for a special election for a House seat in at least 23 years, and probably a lot longer. Just 2.25% of the district’s 88K registered voters cast ballots.
Attorney and former Bexar Co. prosecutor Ina Minjarez (42%) and former two-term San Antonio City Council member Delicia Herrera (28%) advanced to a runoff. Neither candidate received more than 1,000 votes once the contest ended just three weeks after the filing deadline and six weeks after the vacancy occurred to prompt it. The expedited schedule is required by law in order to fill vacancies during the legislative session.
Minjarez won at least a plurality in 29 of the district’s 43 precincts where voters cast ballots, while Herrera won at least a plurality in 8 precincts. Herrera received 89% (41 votes) out of the 46 votes cast in Precinct 2043 and all three votes in another precinct but otherwise did not receive a majority vote in any other precinct. Minjarez won a majority in 10 precincts.
She has several key endorsements, including Bexar Co. Judge Nelson Wolff (who backed Nathan Alonzo in the special election), Bexar Co. Commissioner Paul Elizondo and San Antonio City Council Member Ray Lopez. The latter currently holds the seat once held by Herrera. She challenged Elizondo in his last race for reelection.Minjarez’s web site lists nearly 100 supporters, although not all of them are district residents.Minjarez continues to hold an advantage in contributions, and she has the organizational resources of Annie’s List behind her. The group has hosted at least one phone-banking session in the past week. Few other outside groups are participating, as 87% of all campaign contributions have come from San Antonio.
|Candidate||Runoff Report||2013-14 Cycle|
|Cash on Hand||Contributions||Expenditures||Contributions||Expenditures|
|Loan Principal: none.
Telegram Reports: none.
Minjarez also has the support of the Bexar Co. Tejano Democrats and the Bexar Co. Young Tejano Democrats. She earned the endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News for the special election.
The African American Political Alliance, Mexican American Democrats of Texas, Northside Coalition of Democratic Women, San Antonio Board of Realtors, San Antonio Fire and Police Pensioners’ Assoc., and the San Antonio Park Police Officer’s Assoc. have endorsed Herrera.
Turnout for the runoff has improved from the special election but remains very, very low. Through two days of early voting, 535 people have voted early in person, nearly double the special election’s first-two-day total of 278. The campaign’s short timeframe, low profile and relative scarcity of resources made the special election a highly unpredictable affair. The runoff is scheduled during Fiesta San Antonio, a major festival, which will overshadow the race. Low turnout again adds unpredictability to the runoff, and anything can happen when turnout is so low, but we expect Minjarez will prevail.
Please see our prior commentary, “HD124: Short Sprint to Succeed Menendez Reaches Final Week,” dated March 24, 2015, for more analysis on this race.