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Villarreal to launch his mayoral candidacy

We’re going to be talking a lot about Houston’s mayoral race next year, but six months before we elect a new Mayor San Antonio will elect one as well. The current frontrunner – and only declared candidate so far – is State Rep. Mike Villarreal, who will formally launch his campaign today.

Mike Villarreal

[Villarreal is] expected to resign his state office in the near future to focus on the mayoral campaign. A Twitter message to followers from @mikevillarreal [recently] announced that campaign signs would be ready to go on Monday, which will move his candidacy from the behind-the-scenes meetings stage out into the open.

Three months after announcing his run for mayor, Villarreal is still running alone. That is likely to change after the Nov. 4 general elections, so Villarreal is sending a message now to would-be challengers: He’s used his head start to build a $250,000 war chest, assemble a strong campaign team, launch a Mike for Mayor website, and secure key endorsements.

Nearly one-fifth of that money has come in the last 30 days, according to campaign consultant and public relations agency owner Trish Deberry.

“I’m proud of the fact that my campaign continues to gain momentum, and a great cross-section of San Antonio’s business as well as neighborhood leaders are making the early decision to support me in the Mayor’s race,” said Villarreal. “I’m not taking anything for granted and working hard every day.”

As we know, the ability of a non-city politician to transfer funds to a city campaign is currently being litigated. Clearly, the rules in San Antonio are a bit different. One presumes that subject will come up in court.

District 1 City Councilmember Diego Bernal is widely regarded as the strongest candidate to succeed Villarreal if he decides to resign from City Council and seek election to the Texas Legislature.

Villarreal has now officially resigned his House seat. One hopes Rick Perry will pay enough attention to his main job to schedule a special election ASAP. I’m a fan of CM Bernal, and I’d be happy to see him get elected to succeed Villarreal.

Who will oppose Villarreal in the mayoral race remains to be seen. The most closely-watched person on the short list is Mayor Ivy Taylor, who is serving out the 10-month unexpired term of former Mayor and now Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.

Some people have also speculated that Sen. Leticia Van de Putte might run for Mayor on the theory that she won’t want to serve in a Senate presided over by Dan Patrick. I’m dubious, though she is at least considering the question, so I suppose anything is possible. Taylor had said during the selection process that she wasn’t interested in running in 2015, but you know how these things can go. She has other options available to her as well. My guess is that she doesn’t run, either. Someone will challenge Villarreal, but barring anything strange I think he’s a strong favorite to win in May. Randy Bear, who has several other possible contenders, and Texpatriate have more.

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