SAN ANTONIO – Campaign finance records released Wednesday show that two front-runners have emerged in the race for Bexar County Sheriff.
Challenger Willie Ng, a Republican, raised more than $152,000 from the start of July through the end of December.
He spent less than $45,000 during that same time period and has close to $63,000 cash on hand going into the few months ahead of the March 3 primary, according to a copy of the report provided to KSAT by the Ng campaign.
Sheriff Javier Salazar, the incumbent and apparent front runner in the upcoming Democratic primary, brought in more than $78,000 in contributions from the start of July through the end of December and spent close to $86,000 during that same time period. Salazar, who was elected by less than a percentage point in 2016, also had some cash reserves remaining from his first sheriff campaign.
Republican Gerard “Gerry” Rickhoff, the longtime Bexar County Clerk who was voted out of office as part of a Democratic wave in late 2018, did not report any political contributions but does have more than $37,000 cash on hand, likely from his previous campaigns.
The other Republican on the March ballot, Gary Garcia, received $675 in contributions but spent more than $7,000.
As KSAT 12 reported Wednesday, former Bexar County Precinct 2 Constable Michelle Barrientes Vela raised $1,600 in political contributions and loaned herself more than $60,000.
Barrientes Vela, who was removed from office in October after publicly declaring her intention to run for sheriff, is seeking the county-wide office despite an ongoing criminal investigation of her by the FBI and Texas Rangers.
Democrat Jose Trevino raised more than $13,000 and spent over $7,000.
Sharon Rodriguez, another Democrat, raised less than $4,000 and spent just over $4,000.
Campaign finance figures for Democrat Pete Lozano were not available on the Bexar County Elections Department website as of Thursday morning.
Bexar County has had a Democratic sheriff for the last three decades, except for the four-year tenure of Republican Susan Pamerleau, who won by 4 percentage points in 2012. Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz lost Bexar County by about 13 percentage points in 2016 and 20 percentage points in 2018, respectively.
One thing that might work in Ng’s favor, however, is that there will no longer be a straight-ticket ballot option for Texas voters in the general election, meaning voters must select each candidate they wish to vote for as opposed to a one-punch option to vote for all candidates for one party.
Notable names back Ng
Among Ng’s notable contributors were Nico La Hood, the former Bexar County District Attorney. Ng worked as La Hood’s chief criminal investigator during his four years in office.
San Antonio businessman and philanthropist Bill Greehey contributed to Ng’s campaign, along with philanthropist Kym Rapier.
Bobby Hogeland, Salazar’s former jail chief who resigned in late 2018, also contributed to Ng’s campaign.
Salazar has support of current administration
Salazar’s finance report included a long list of contributions from his current administration, including Chief Deputy James Serrato and Deputy Chief Nancy Sanford.