Jackson Lee

Sheila Jackson Lee Loses Runoff To Be Next Mayor Of Houston. John Whitmire Prevails.

Jackson Lee’s core constituency was composed of Black Houstonians, but they were not mobilized.

In November, after the Houston mayoral race between Democrats Sheila Jackson Lee and John Whitmire advanced to a runoff, outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tried to rally support for Jackson Lee. Still, on Dec. 9, Whitmire was the victor.

Politico reported that Whitmire was declared the winner by The Associated Press with 57% reporting, leading Jackson Lee by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

Jackson Lee’s candidacy seemingly never recovered from the bombshell recording that appeared to depict her berating a staffer. In addition to this, Whitmire’s ability to both outspend Jackson Lee and court moderate Republican voters, as well as a sizeable contingent of Houston’s Latinx population, likely spelled doom for her candidacy. Whitmire, in his victory speech, also promised to expand funding for the city’s police force, which has a well-documented history of police brutality. According to Politico, it is partially because of Whitmire’s tough-on-crime campaign messages that he secured endorsements from Houston’s fire department and police unions, which likely earned him some political cache with moderate Republican voters. 


As Houston Public Media reported, even though Jackson Lee’s core constituency was composed of Black Houstonians, they were not mobilized like they were ahead of Turner’s first term as mayor. In addition, white and Latinx voters found Whitmire’s middle-of-the-aisle style positioning more amenable to their political leanings. As The Hill mentioned, Houston’s population, which is trending younger, seemed to be frustrated by the choice between two 70-year-old career politicians. This disappointment and frustration could very well foreshadow a state of national disillusionment if the presidential candidates follow suit in November 2024.

In her concession speech, Jackson Lee was measured and thankful for her supporters, saying, “You worked real hard, you come from all over the city, and you have hearts of gold. And I am very happy to be able to say we worked as hard, and I’m grateful for every vote.”

Jackson Lee has not yet announced if she will seek reelection for her congressional seat, but the deadline to file to be eligible to run in 2024 is Dec. 11. 

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