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UTSA political science expert weighs in on Bexar County Judge race

Precinct 3 of Commissioner Trish DeBerry in green as it appeared in recent 2020 redistricting map
Bexar County
Precinct 3 of Commissioner Trish DeBerry in green as it appeared in recent 2020 redistricting map

The entry of Republican Commissioner Trish DeBerry into the Bexar County Judge race came as shock to many local political pundits.

Not many expected DeBerry, who has a background in journalism and public relations, to enter the race. She has only been in office a year and the county has not had a Republican county judge in more than two decades. The county also lights up blue following most local, state and federal elections.

Jon Taylor, chair of UTSA's Political Science Department, said DeBerry's run will be a test of Republican inroads in luring Latino voters, the county's majority population. He said they have made progress, pointing to the Republican win in the special election for a Texas House seat.

"There's something to be said for Latino outreach by Republicans in Bexar County and in South Texas in general. As we saw in the special election for House District 118 last month, a Republican won that," Taylor said, noting the victory from John Lujan.

Taylor said if DeBerry is counting on a long list of Latino endorsements to help her win countywide in November of next year, it may not be that easy.

"Endorsements in general, they don't hurt. But it's much like, no offense to our friends in the newspaper industry, newspaper endorsements. How much do they really matter? The answer is probably not a lot."

DeBerry also must defeat small businessman Nathan Buchanan in the March primary to make it to November. She beat Buchanan in a previous matchup to win her commissioner's seat.

On the Democratic side of the ticket, Taylor predicts a runoff will be needed after the March primary since there are so many well-qualified candidates.

State Rep. Ina Minjarez, mayoral chief of staff Ivalis Meza Gonzalez, former district judge Peter Sakai, and former mayoral candidate Gerard Ponce are the Democrats that will appear on the ballot in March.

County Judge Nelson Wolff has 60 days to name a replacement to serve out DeBerry's term until 2024. There's no word if Wolff will appoint a Republican, like DeBerry, to replace her to serve the historically conservative Precinct 3. State law does not require it.

State law does however require an elected office holder to give up their seat once they announce their intentions for another elected office.

Wolff said DeBerry is on a "hold over" until a replacement is named.

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