4/30/21: Updated data from the 8th day reports available at the bottom of this article.
On May 1, 14 candidates will appear on the ballot for the San Antonio mayoral election. Incumbent Ron Nirenberg is back, seeking a third term in office after defeating Greg Brockhouse in a runoff election in 2019. This year, Brockhouse will also be back on the ballot, leading a packed field of candidates looking for a chance to unseat Nirenberg.
While Transparency USA’s database does not include comprehensive coverage of municipal finance data, there is plenty of overlap between the money in state-level politics and the money in high-profile city elections.
With early voting less than a week away, here are San Antonio’s top mayoral candidates, including how much support they’ve received so far and what those numbers could mean on Election Day.
The 30th Day Before Election campaign finance reports are the first insight into the money backing the San Antonio mayoral race in 2021.
Prior to the 30-day reports, only Nirenberg had received substantial campaign donations, pulling in $84,597 before the January semiannual reporting deadline. Of the four mayoral candidates who filed the April 1 report, two have emerged far ahead of the pack.
|Candidate||Contributions||Number of Contributions||Number of Max ($1,000) Contributions||Expenditures||Cash-on-Hand|
|Ron Nirenberg (Incumbent)||$317,620||661||198||$197,225||$189,529|
Incumbent Mayor Ron Nirenberg continues to outraise everyone, pulling in over $317,000 for his campaign. Nirenberg’s haul included maximum $1,000 contributions from 198 donors, giving him a comfortable lead in terms of cash-on-hand before the start of early voting.
Greg Brockhouse, Nirenberg’s 2019 foe, reported $100,755 in contributions, including 63 donors who gave him the maximum allowable donation amount of $1,000. Brockhouse was holding a little over $25,000 in the bank just a few weeks out from the beginning of early voting.
Meanwhile, Denise Gutierrez-Homer trailed behind the top two candidates, bringing in just over $7,000 from 41 donors who contributed smaller amounts to her campaign.
Nirenberg, with over three times the contributions and seven times the cash-on-hand of his closest rival at his disposal, holds the outsized advantage as of April 1. We’ve addressed the built-in advantages that allow incumbents to be successful at the state level before, but the principals are the same at the municipal level.
Incumbents enjoy name recognition from previous elections and political appearances while in office. They also have the ability to remind voters of the benefits or “favors” they have enacted while in government. Both advantages also give them a financial edge over their competitors.
That head start was highlighted in the January semiannual reports, where Mayor Nirenberg had already amassed $84,597 in his campaign coffers while other candidates had yet to gain any significant financial traction.
The 30-day reports reveal that the incumbent mayor’s cash advantage continued to climb throughout Q1 of 2021, outraising the three challengers who filed reports by much more than 300 percent. Nirenberg’s numbers also reveal a greater number of constituents willing to support his campaign, with 661 total donors as of April 1 — 198 of whom gave the maximum-allowed donation of $1,000.
In terms of fundraising, the San Antonio mayoral race is comparable to the first time Nirenberg and Brockhouse squared off two years ago. In the 30-day reports filed by candidates in 2019, Nirenberg brought in $152,238, while Brockhouse reported $50,790 in contributions.
While both candidates have taken in significantly more money this time around — nearly double their 2019 contributions — the ratio remains similar.
Brockhouse’s smaller 30-day numbers are not to be ignored, however. With over $100,000 raised since January, the challenger poses a potential threat with some serious donor heft behind him this time around. While Nirenberg’s total donation amount was more than three times higher, the difference in the number of donors supporting each of them is not as wide of a gap. Brockhouse had 324 contributors to his campaign (63 of whom gave the maximum amount), almost half of the incumbent mayor’s count of 661.
Money is very useful for running a campaign, but because only vote count matters on May 1, the number of donors can be a more helpful indicator of voter turnout. As the primary challenger once again, Brockhouse has successfully rallied a significant number of backers even without having early support or the other built-in advantages of incumbency.
A lot can happen in the final month of the race, and we expect to see some big donation numbers and even bigger spending during the final push to Election Day.
The following data was added 4/30/2021:
With campaign finance reports now in for the 8-days before tomorrow’s election Election Day, incumbent Ron Nirenberg has widened his campaign finance lead. Nirenberg has now raised just over $536,000, with around $98,808 sitting in the bank.
Meanwhile, Nirenberg’s closest competitor in terms of fundraising, Greg Brockhouse, has brought in $114,525 for his campaign so far, with $11,644 sitting in the bank. Challenger Denise Gutierrez-Homer has also brought in $13,741, spending $41,905 on her campaign.
The next campaign finance reports for municipal candidates will be due sometime around the runoffs, if applicable. If no runoffs are held, candidates will file their next finance reports in July.
Financial Activities By Mayoral Candidates in 30-Day and 8-Day Reports (January-April 2021)
|Candidate||Amount Raised||Number of $1,000 Contributions||Amount Spent||Cash-on-Hand||Outstanding Loans|
|Ron Nirenberg (Incumbent)||$536,235||340||$360,047||$98,808||$21,125|
You can search additional campaign finance data from this race on the San Antonio city website.
Want more about the money in San Antonio politics on TUSA? Explore the latest lobbying data for the City of San Antonio. You can also search San Antonio to see every related lobbyist, client, donor and payee that we have on record in state-level politics.