by PATRICK SVITEK
SAN ANTONIO — Interim San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor claimed victory Saturday night, defeating Leticia Van de Putte for a full term in the mayor’s job and dealing the former state senator a tough loss in a city central to her long career in public service.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Taylor beat Van de Putte 51.7 percent to 48.3 percent, according to unofficial returns.
The result was set to be historic either way: Taylor is on the cusp of becoming the first black mayor elected to the position. Van de Putte would have been the first Hispanic woman to hold the job.
Declaring victory at her election night party, Taylor asked supporters if they realized they had “defeated a political machine.” Yet she struck a conciliatory tone as she turned her attention to San Antonio’s future.
“I will be working with everyone throughout our city,” Taylor said. “It’s time for us to turn the page. It’s time to get back to work.”
Meanwhile, at her campaign headquarters, Van de Putte told supporters their “hearts may be slightly broken” but expressed gratitude for hearing their concerns as she campaigned.
“I’m in love with San Antonio all over again,” she said.
Van de Putte fielded questions about her political future shortly after her speech to supporters.
“I look forward to continuing to serve San Antonio as just a private citizen,” she told reporters. Asked whether the mayoral race was her last election, she said she was “not thinking about anything.”
As expected, Taylor easily won the early vote, beating Van de Putte by about five percentage points among the more than 65,000 early ballots cast. Van de Putte’s campaign was counting on her voters to flood the polls on Election Day, but she never closed the gap, consistently trailing Taylor by a few points throughout the night.
The loss is Van de Putte’s second high-profile defeat in seven months. Dan Patrick, her former Senate colleague, beat her in a landslide victory last year in the lieutenant governor’s race.
After maintaining throughout that contest tat she was not angling for the Alamo City’s top job, she returned home to throw her hat into the ring. Taylor, who was appointed to the job last year after former Mayor Julian Castro left for Washington, D.C., also initially denied any interest in the election, assuring the City Council she would only complete Castro’s term.
The office is nonpartisan, though party politics loomed over the race, especially in the lead-up to the runoff. Van de Putte, a Democrat, was viewed as more liberal than Taylor, whose appeal to more conservative voters likely served her well in a low-turnout election.
PATRICK SVITEK reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is made available here through a news partnership between the Texas Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.