Manuel Medina might say he's still weighing whether to run for San Antonio mayor, but he talks about his presence in the race with near certainty. He's already pledged a quarter million of his own dollars to the effort, held a big, public event earlier this month naming his campaign treasurer, and when he dishes public transportation policy, which he clearly wants to be his marquee issue, the Bexar County Democratic Party chairman says things like, "I want Manuel Medina to be considered the transportation mayor."
And, even though he hasn't "officially" announced his run (he promises that final decision could come sometime next week), it's clear who Medina considers his main competition at this point: District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who earlier this month became Mayor Ivy Taylor's first official challenger.
That's because Medina and Nirenberg will be likely be scrapping for the same slice of the electorate — the progressive, liberal and Democrat-leaning voters who fit squarely in the anti-Taylor camp. Both say they care about ethics reform at city hall, want greater transparency, and are either overtly critical or deeply skeptical of the city's near-billion-dollar Vista Ridge water pipeline project. Both lament that a largely working-class city the size of San Antonio has such a crummy public transportation system. Each delivers similarly fiery (if not vague) denouncements of the special interests guiding development and public policy at city hall.
To be fair, Medina is quick to say "this isn't a partisan election" (which, is technically true; mayoral candidates don't run with party affiliation). He just quickly follows it up with a barrage of plainly partisan political appeals. "The truth of the matter is Ivy Taylor has aligned herself with the far right of San Antonio, and Ron Nirenberg has never voted in a Democratic primary in his life," he told us. So much for nonpartisan.
Many have already pointed out the spoiler effect
Medina could have on the race, potentially leading to a repeat of the last mayoral election when two former Democrat state lawmakers jumped in, split the anti-Taylor vote, and triggered a runoff that Taylor ultimately won.
Medina's response? "Everyone should stop drinking the Kool-Aid." He insists Nirenberg's support among progressives and liberals is overblown, and that he could lock in and turn out the vote in the Democratic strongholds of the west and south sides. "There's only one Democrat in this race, only one true progressive and that's why from day one Manuel Medina has been considered a serious candidate," he says. (As Brian Chasnoff notes today
, Medina likes to refer to himself in the third person – a lot.)
"At the end of the day, Ron's a centrist," Medina says. "Why pick a centrist who’s going to be forced to carry your progressive values when there is one who has been the champion of those public values for years?" Sounds an awful lot like a pre-runoff primary in a supposedly nonpartisan race.