updated 6/8/2005 2:32:56 AM ET 2005-06-08T06:32:56

A 70-year-old retired judge defeated a 30-year-old Hispanic city councilman Tuesday to win the mayor’s race in the nation’s eighth-largest city, rallying from a double-digit deficit in last month’s general election.

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Phil Hardberger received 66,830 votes, or 51.5 percent, in San Antonio’s two-man runoff, while Julian Castro finished with 63,001 votes, or 48.5 percent.

Hardberger will succeed Ed Garza, who was blocked by term limits from running for a third two-year term at the helm of this South Texas city of nearly 1.2 million, of whom about 59 percent are Hispanic.

The youthful-looking Castro got 42 percent of the vote during May’s general election and it appeared he was on track to become the second Hispanic in a matter of weeks to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city. Antonio Villaraigosa won in Los Angeles last month.

But Hardberger, who picked up 30 percent of the vote last month, quickly made up ground on Castro by getting the endorsement of ex-councilman Carroll Schubert, who had finished a strong third in the initial round of voting.

“It’s the beginning of a new day for the city of San Antonio, but first we all have to get back together,” Hardberger said during his late-night victory speech. “We have to end the deconstruction and start the construction.”

He also attacked Castro’s lack of experience and said the councilman’s troubles with inaccurate campaign finance reports prove he is too inexperienced to oversee the city’s $1.5 billion budget.

Castro hinted that, while he tasted defeat for the first time in this election, his political career was far from over.

“This just wasn’t our time,” Castro said in his concession speech, “but it will be one day.”

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