Forced into runoff, odds still in Elizondo’s favorMarch 8, 2018 Updated: March 8, 2018 9:03pm
Elizondo had hoped to avoid the runoff, and the possibility that Bravo’s supporters might flock to Rodriguez’s side.
“I went to meet her in person and told her,” Bravo said Thursday. “I tried to hold out until the end. I wanted to be in it.”
To Rodriguez, the most important number of the night was 55: the percentage of the combined vote, rounded up, that went to her and Bravo. She hoped to nab a few Elizondo voters, too, before the runoff.
"I think the overarching theme here was that the majority of the Precinct 2 voters decided they want a change, and they're going to have an opportunity to do that in the runoff," Rodriguez said, adding: "Because (Elizondo) has the name recognition, there are probably some voters out there that didn't know anything about us, so they went with who they knew."
During runoffs, with far fewer races on the ballot, turnout typically drops off dramatically. In 2014, Democrats in Bexar County cast about 17,000 ballots in the May runoff after turning out nearly 45,000 in March.
That same year, Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert won the Democratic nomination with 64 percent of the less than 7,000 votes cast in his Precinct 4 runoff.
“It’s a different race,” Bravo said. “It’s not the same electorate. So you can’t just say Paul’s got 45 and Queta’s got 30 and they’re going to fight over my 25 percent.”
Asked about Bravo throwing his weight behind Rodriguez, Elizondo said Bravo’s support wouldn’t necessarily transfer to his runoff opponent.
“She may not be the type of candidate that people supporting him would automatically jump over to,” Elizondo said. “Not only that, there’s a lot of my base that just didn’t turn out, that’s just hanging there.”
Elizondo received some of his strongest support around St. Mary’s University, including immediately south of the campus and west of Woodlawn Lake Park, an analysis of voting data by the San Antonio Express-News shows.
Some areas in the southern part of the precinct also overwhelmingly voted for Elizondo, including near Monterrey Park along Texas 151.
He carried 123 total precincts, to Rodriguez’s 14 and Bravo’s nine. Six other precincts resulted in ties. Many of the precincts Elizondo won were decided by single-digit margins, though Rodriguez’s decisive victories generally occurred in smaller precincts.
Rodriguez and Bravo combined for 51 percent or more in 96 of the the 152 precincts that recorded votes. Elizondo won outright in 44, and in 12 the Elizondo and Rodriguez-Bravo factions tied.
Rodriguez had her widest margin of victory over Elizondo in Shearer Hills-Ridgeview. She also carried a precinct along 410, containing Ingram Park Mall, and a small precinct on the southeast edge.
Bravo won the two precincts with the most voters by narrow margins over Elizondo, with Rodriguez trailing far behind. Either Bravo or Elizondo won the largest 16 precincts.
“I feel good,” Elizondo said. “I came out ahead. Just not enough. … I didn’t get to what I was working for, but I’m still glad I got (within) 5 percent plus one.”
During the first leg of the campaign, Elizondo ran primarily on his experience and the plans he’d laid out for what would be a 10th term on Commissioners Court. He plans to continue putting out the same message during the next couple months.
“All throughout this period, I’ve had the uncomfortable position of having to defend against two people who are taking different shots at me, and coming at me from two different sides,” Elizondo said. “It’ll be easier to respond to one. But I don’t even intend to do that. I intend to run on my record and compare mine to hers.”
Rodriguez and Bravo have both rebuffed Elizondo’s argument about experience.
“Here’s the thing: Every person in political office at one point ran with no political experience,” Rodriguez said. “It’s not about political experience. It’s about whether you have the capacity and leadership skills to fill the position.”
Elizondo heads into the runoff with $440,000 on hand, far more than Rodriguez’s $4,600, according to reports filed Feb. 26.
“He had the resources to go on TV and we didn’t,” Bravo said. “With the people that are hard to touch, what are the resources Queta’s going to have to reach people? That’s going to matter. ... He starts out with that advantage, and you’ve got to be able to offset it.”
The winner of the May 22 runoff will face Theresa Connolly on Nov. 6. Connolly, who defeated Ismael Garcia, 67 to 33 percent in the GOP primary, will be the first Republican running in the Precinct 2 general election in 28 years.
“We’re armed and ready,” Elizondo said.
Jasper Scherer is a San Antonio Express-News staff writer. Read more of his stories here. | firstname.lastname@example.org | @jaspscherer