Down Goes Jackson Lee: Anti-Trump Rep Loses Houston Mayoral Runoff

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) had her hopes of becoming Houston’s mayor crushed on Saturday when she lost a special runoff election to Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire.

Despite endorsements from powerful Democratic figureheads such as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Jackson Lee simply couldn’t overcome Whitmire. The state senator toppled Jackson Lee by nearly 30 points at the polls.

Whitmire and Jackson Lee made their way through a crowded November general election field that had almost 20 candidates, but a special runoff election was needed to decide the ultimate winner. After winning in spectacular fashion, Whitmire will be in charge of the city that’s facing significant issues such as budget shortfalls, crumbling infrastructure and crime.

Voters were unconvinced by Jackson Lee’s campaign promises that if she were elected mayor of Houston, she “will have solutions coming, programs coming, answers coming.”

It certainly didn’t help that Jackson Lee found herself mired in controversies, including an incident in which she was caught on tape lashing out against her staffers.

The 73-year-old Jackson Lee is no stranger to Houston, as she’s represented the city in Congress for nearly 30 years. Before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995, she was a member of the City Council.

The 74-year-old Whitmire is considered one of the state’s most powerful liberal lawmakers. He fared well with voters who are concerned with crime, as he has a long track record of being tough on crime.

Whitmire focused his crime on bipartisan politics, improving Houston’s streets and reducing crime.

“It’s going to be a tough job,” he said. “It’s going to be challenging, but I’m going to reach out and bring people together, and we’re going to fix our infrastructure.”

Through mid-October, Houston experienced an almost 18% decrease in homicides year-over-year, with 288 reported in 2023 compared to 351 at the same time last year, according to data from the Houston Police Department.

At the same time, levels are still much higher than they were before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall violent and non-violent crime was down 5% year-over-year as of October, according to HPD data.