Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire Headed For Runoff In Houston Mayoral Race

Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire Headed For Runoff In Houston Mayoral Race

Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire will be headed to a runoff election to determine Houston's next mayor.

According to an NBC News projection, Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire will head to a runoff election to decide who will become Houston’s next mayor, taking over for Sylvester Turner, who is term-limited and cannot seek reelection.

There was a crowded field of diverse candidates, but Jackson Lee and Whitmire received major endorsements from players in Houston’s political scene, Whitmire from the Houston Chronicle‘s editorial board and Jackson Lee from Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. 

According to the Texas Tribune, the race has largely revolved around crime, the budget crisis, and the personalities of the two leaders. Jackson Lee, a Congresswoman, would be the city’s first Black woman mayor, continuing a long line of Black mayors in Houston. Whitmire, a state senator, entered the race as the frontrunner. He received 42% of the vote; Jackson Lee picked up 35% of the vote. 

Jackson Lee told her supporters on Nov 7, “I started this journey around the issue of people — making sure that whatever I said was to make Houston a livable city, and to make Houston a city that responded to the needs of families and our children. I hope that however the outcome is, it will reflect the people bought into a positive agenda that will take this city into the future and that future will be something for everyone.”

Jackson Lee secured the endorsement of Turner, who had been abstaining from endorsing either candidate, on November 8. Jackson Lee sorely needs the boost; polling indicates she will lose in a head-to-head matchup against Whitmire. A recording of Jackson Lee allegedly cursing at and berating a staffer likely does not help her standing, but some Houstonians, like campaign volunteer Jason Dawkins, believe that she is already ready to hit the ground running as mayor.

“In many ways, she has served as some form of the mayor of Houston for all these years,” Dawkins told the Texas Tribune . “She’s really ready to be mayor on day one.”

State Democratic Party leaders see the runoff, scheduled for Dec 9, as a good thing for both the City of Houston and state politics.

“A healthy democracy consists of strong candidates working towards the common goal of serving the best interest of our communities,” Texas Democratic Chariman Gilberto Hinojosa told the Houston Chronicle. “Houstonians are lucky to choose between two Texas Democrats who have dedicated their careers to making Houston the powerhouse metropolis it is today. Houston is the heartbeat of Texas, and we look forward to the voters of Houston making their voice heard.”