As the results trickled in Tuesday night, it appeared early on that Democrats in Bexar County had indeed made some gains in down-ballot races, securing a number of state district judgeships, two Texas House districts that had recently flipped Republican, and possibly even a close-call win against the incumbent Republican county sheriff.
Across town, people sipping beers at election watch parties seemed confident in a Hillary Clinton victory. At Brick, Victoria Benavides perfected her election-themed menu, complete with “drunken pussy ceviche” and “pink tacos.” “The ceviche has mixed fish, enough to represent all women,” said Benavides, who runs the catering business Culinary Chingona. “Fat fish, skinny fish, dark fish, white fish.” An obscene election, she said, deserved an obscene menu. At a soggy Eastside gathering of county Democrats, Claudia Sanchez touted local party wins, before pivoting to the national presidential race. “There are so many long-term consequences Trump would have on people living in Bexar County. Immigration, health care…” she trailed off, watching as a giant image of Texas turned red on the screen. “It’s going to be a long night.”
Indeed. For many local Democrats, despite those down-ballot wins, Tuesday night was overshadowed by the ascendency of President-elect Donald J. Trump, a candidate who built his campaign on promises to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, to unleash a deportation force to round up undocumented immigrants, to punish women who seek abortion, and to ban Muslims from entering the country. At Edera Osteria-Enoteca off San Pedro Avenue, a bustling but small crew of local Dems watched as pundit-packed cable news panels finally started to concede that, basically, everyone was wrong. Hillary Clinton would lose. Trump would win. Many started to fold out as the 11 o’clock hour approached, grousing that they were going home to mourn in private. It started to feel like a wake.The mood had been decidedly different just five miles away at the Bexar County GOP headquarters, as supporters, packed like sardines into a fifth-floor office suite near the San Antonio airport, stayed glued to the results coming in via Fox News. Pauline Grossman, holding a Trump/Pence placard was ebullient as she breezed through her own version of Trump camp talking points: “We’re selling out our country … Who’s going to pay for all the immigrants coming in?… China is taking over the United States … Whatever happened to ‘made in America’? … America has let go of its values.” She ended on abortion, pointing to the final presidential debate moment where Trump said these actual words: “If you go with what Hillary is saying, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby.”