Texas 20th District
San Antonio, with its antique past and Hispanic heritage, its military superstructure and its high-technology hopes, is unlike any other city in the United States. It is the home of the Alamo, preserved by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, where Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and 184 others were killed in 1836. (Crockett was a Tennessee congressman for three terms; if he had not lost his re-election in 1834, he presumably would not have left Tennessee for Texas.) Its Spanish architecture recalls San Antonio’s days as the most important town in Texas, when the state was part of Mexico, and contrasts with the 31-story Tower Life Building, which contrasts with the armadillo-like Alamodome. And its Paseo del Rio, the Riverwalk along the tiny San Antonio River that was redeveloped in the 1970s, also recalls an earlier era. The city includes old neighborhoods that evoke the Germans who were its chief Anglo citizens for many years.
2008 Presidential Vote
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For most of the 20th century, San Antonio’s economy was built on the military. What the locals call “Military City, U.S.A.” remains the home of Lackland Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston and a giant military hospital. In 1995, President Bill Clinton bent the rules of the base-closing process to keep in San Antonio the thousands of jobs at Kelly Air Force Base, a move so resented that Congress blocked new rounds of base closings until 2005. Kelly was finally closed in 2001. In the 2005 base review, Fort Sam’s renowned Brooke Army Medical Center was transformed into a regional military medical center, for a net gain of more than 4,000 jobs in the area. The local health industry, which includes the Texas Health Science Center, has been thriving and is the largest local employer. San Antonio has many military retirees and is the largest tourist center in Texas. The city also is the Union Pacific rail hub.
Since 2000, its population has grown 16%, and San Antonio has surpassed Dallas as Texas’s second-largest city. However, its metropolitan-area population of 2.3 million is only about half the size of metro Houston and one-third the size of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex. Its low education and income levels are partially due to the high levels of new immigrants in the city. Yet it has mostly avoided polarized politics and ethnic strife as it has progressed as a low-wage, high-tech center that has some links to, and sometimes competes with, nearby Austin.
The 20th Congressional District of Texas includes most of central San Antonio and its lower-income west side. (Affluent neighborhoods are in the 21st and 23rd districts.) The district is wholly contained within Bexar County. On the west it extends beyond Lackland Air Force Base toward the county line. The district is 70% Hispanic and is one of the state’s seven Hispanic-majority districts. It is Democratic. Republican favorite-son candidate George W. Bush won 45% of the vote here in 2004. Republican presidential nominee John McCain got 36% in 2008.