On Saturday, Roberto Treviño, the architect of the Chick-fil-A ban in the San Antonio airport, lost his re-election bid to upstart Mario Bravo, an environmentalist. The Chick-fil-A ban inspired a similar ouster in Buffalo, N.Y., and it inspired the Texas legislature to pass a “Save Chick-fil-A” bill to prevent anti-religious discrimination. Four Texans filed a lawsuit against San Antonio under that new law, and the lawsuit has reached the Supreme Court of Texas.
It remains unclear whether the Chick-fil-A ban played a role in the runoff. Treviño finished first in the general election on May 1, taking 44.9 percent of the vote (5,645 votes) to Bravo’s 33.6 percent (4,225 votes). Yet Bravo pulled ahead on Saturday.
While Treviño raised nearly twice as much money as Bravo in the month leading up to the runoff ($63,190 to Bravo’s $35,190), Bravo nearly matched his expenditures in the same period, spending $45,077 to Treviño’s $48,214. Bravo slammed his opponent for not helping the homeless enough. Bravo, project manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, also ran on an environmental platform. Treviño also faced criticism over his role in the Alamo redevelopment plan.
“I’m a little surprised,” Treviño admitted on Saturday. “We knew it was gonna be a close race. I thought we did well at the debates.”
Treviño spearheaded the anti-Chick-fil-A effort in 2019, arguing that “San Antonio is a city full of compassion, and we do not have room in our public facilities for a business with a legacy of anti-LGBTQ behavior.” Councilman Manny Pelaez added, “I want the first thing [a visitor to] see is a San Antonio that is welcoming and that they not see…a symbol of hate.”
Treviño attacked Chick-fil-A shortly after a ThinkProgress article blasted Chick-fil-A for donating to the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson home (which Chick-fil-A no longer supports). These Christian organizations stand by the Bible’s teaching on sexuality, that sex is only acceptable in marriage and marriage is between one man and one woman. Chick-fil-A used to support Christian nonprofits like the Family Research Council — which has been wrongly accused of being a “hate group” by the corrupt Southern Poverty Law Center — but stopped doing so after the original controversy in 2012.
Last September, San Antonio buckled after an FAA investigation found in favor of Chick-fil-A. Although the city agreed to let the fast-food joint apply for a lease, the restaurant decided not to pursue the location.
Four Texans have sued San Antonio for religious discrimination against the restaurant, and the case has reached the Texas Supreme Court. The city has argued that it is “immune from suit for conduct which occurred prior to the statute’s effective date.”
While Treviño’s attack on Chick-fil-A may not have been the key issue that cost him re-election, it likely contributed to his loss. Treviño’s stand unleashed a national and statewide firestorm that did not end in the city councilman’s favor.