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UTSA professor predicts possible candidates for Bexar County Judge race

JudgeNelsonWolff2.JPG
Dominic Walsh
/
Texas Public Radio
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff at March 2020 news conference

The chair of the UTSA Political Science Department has a few predictions about the upcoming race to fill the seat of outgoing County Judge Nelson Wolff.

Wolff told 500 community and business leaders during a chamber of commerce luncheon downtown on Wednesday that he would not seek reelection to the office he has held since 2001.

His political career began in 1971, and he has served in the Texas Legislature, as a San Antonio City Councilman and San Antonio Mayor.

UTSA Professor Jon Taylor said it will be a crowded field, with members of the local delegation of the Texas Legislature, sitting commissioners and San Antonio councilmembers likely showing interest.

He said a surprise dark horse might appear, too. Taylor also predicted any Republican running for the office will have an uphill battle to win the seat in a county that votes largely Democratic.

The Commissioners Court only has one Republican seated — Trish DeBerry — but Taylor doesn't predict she'll run.

Taylor said no matter who wins, it will be hard to fill the Panama hat of Judge Wolff who brought decades of experience to the job.

"He's a guy who knew how to get things done, a fixer in that regard. He knew everybody," he said.

Taylor also said Wolff's successor may have a hard time matching his popularity.

"Who wouldn't want to go out of office, he's picking the right time, who wouldn't want to go out of office with a 64% approval rating as county judge," he said.

Wolff has 15 more months left in his term and has made no public endorsements for a successor.

Taylor predicted the Democratic primary would likely end up in a runoff among two well-established candidates.

He named State Representatives Trey Martinez Fischer and Ina Minjarez as possible candidates on the Democratic side, and former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and State Representative Lyle Larson on the GOP side.

He also named dropped County Commissioners Tommy Calvert and Justin Rodriguez as possible runners.

He did not name Rebeca Clay-Flores; she and DeBerry are both new to their seats in 2020.

Taylor also said he would not be surprised if San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg followed Wolff's playbook moving from city hall to the county courthouse. Nirenberg has not formally made his future political plans, if any, known.

The Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for the spring, but no exact dates have been set yet due to ongoing redistricting.

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