On Saturday, current Bexar County Democratic Party Chairman Manuel Medina launched the mayoral campaign he's been teasing for weeks, rallying supporters in Main Plaza in front of the San Fernando Cathedral. While the announcement makes it official, it was certainly not unexpected; Medina has practically been running for weeks now, first announcing an "exploratory committee," then vowing to donate a quarter million dollars of his own money to his probably-campaign while making a big public deal of appointing his campaign treasurer last month.
As we've recently noted
, Medina's likely to be scrapping for the same progressive, Democrat-leaning slice of the electorate as District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg, who formally announced his mayoral run in December after months of speculation he'd challenge Taylor in the municipal election this May. Both Medina and Nirenberg talk about ethics reform at city hall, highlight the city's spike in homicides and violent crime last year, say they want greater transparency in local government decisions, and have been either overtly critical or deeply skeptical of the city's near-billion-dollar Vista Ridge water pipeline project, which Taylor has championed. Both also say they want a radical transformation in San Antonio's public transit system (details forthcoming, both camps say).
Medina's entrance certainly chips away at the race's supposed nonpartisan nature (technically, mayoral candidates don't declare any party affiliation). And while Nirenberg has eschewed any party or political label (he even bristles when you mention some of his policies sound "progressive"), he'd been a clear target for Medina before the local Dem party boss even officially entered the race. When we interviewed Medina late last month, he contrasted himself against Nirenberg in saying, "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." (Medina also evidently likes talking about himself in the third person
Ever since he floated the idea, people have been pointing out the spoiler effect Medina could potentially have on the race, maybe even leading to a repeat of the last mayoral election when two relatively popular former Democratic state lawmakers jumped in, split the anti-Taylor vote, and caused a runoff that Taylor ultimately won. But while Medina's the third candidate who's pledged to seek the mayor's office this election, that doesn't mean he's the last. The filing window hasn't even opened yet, meaning someone else could still step in to disrupt the dynamics of the unfolding race. Gilbert Garcia at the Express-News
, for instance, recently floated the curious idea of a more conservative voice, like just-defeated former Republican Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau, entering the race and shaking things up.
And FYI, the filing deadline for municipal candidates is January 18 to February 17.
Just in case there's anyone out there still consulting their exploratory committee.
As of this weekend, Ivy Taylor now has at least two official challengers as she seeks a second term as mayor of San Antonio.