According to the Associated Press, Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee in Houston’s mayoral race Saturday night.
As of Saturday evening, Whitmire was leading 65.27% to 34.73%.
An ad in the final week before the City of Houston mayoral runoff election urged the townspeople “Vote on or before December 7.” There was one problem: the runoff was held on Saturday, and early voting ended on December 5.was
Jackson Lee’s office quickly pulled the ad, Houston tells Public Media It debuted Saturday and ran on local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates, but it was created by an outside advertising agency, not the campaign.
False advertising and even a lack of knowledge of the election date have summed up everything that has happened so far in the mayoral race in America’s fourth-largest city — heading toward a low-turnout result in the last major election in 2023. .
Going into Saturday night, Jackson Lee, a 30-year veteran of Congress, trailed Whitmire in the polls with more than 50 years of public service. Both came first Associated Press. The current mayor, Sylvester Turner, is term-limited., there were 17 candidates on the ballot and a write-in candidate. Whitmire, 74, received 43% of the vote to Jackson Lee’s 36%.
“It’s been a very sleepy race so far,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “We’ve seen more fireworks, more partisanship in mayoral races in the past. It’s a contest that obviously doesn’t hold the attention of voters.”
After the November election, the numbers haven’t moved much. A SurveyUSA Research Survey Whitmire Jackson Lee of the University of Houston led 42% to 35% in the mid-November poll.
The race was supposed to be nonpartisan, but both Whitmire and Jackson Lee were Democrats. Jackson Lee pulled out major endorsements including Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. But, as Rottinghaus points out, big-time endorsements haven’t moved the needle.
Whitmire, meanwhile, boasted some big-time local support Jim “Mattress Mac” McGingwale, Former Houston City Councilman Jack ChristieRunning for the Republican nomination in the first round is Republican megadonor Tilman Fertitta.
Houston is considered the most diverse big city in America, so winning the mayor’s office means winning a coalition of voters.
Turner’s two-point victory over a conservative businessman in 2015 was largely driven by black voters and turnout efforts. Houston Chronicle. Jackson Lee, if elected, would be the city’s first black female mayor and has failed to inspire black voters in the same way, Rottinghaus said. In areas with large numbers of black voters, turnout is much lower, Rottinghaus said.
Although Whitmire touts her Democratic credentials, she also has Republican support and has several major GOP donors backing her. A University of Houston poll showed him with a 56-point advantage among Republicans. Although Houston leans Democratic, the city is not a Democratic stronghold like other major US cities, and Republican votes can be critical to victory. Republicans have complete control of state government, a GOP governor and majorities in both the Assembly and state Senate.
Whitmire, who is white, also has the Latino vote, and a University of Houston poll showed him with a 20-point advantage among Latino voters, who make up about 45% of the city’s population.
Although Houston is a young city, the average age of a Houstonian voter is 62, according to Rottinghaus. The top local issue is crime, and both candidates said they would keep Police Chief Troy Finn in Monday’s final debate.
With the two candidates close on many issues, there were few lulls in the contest.
Two weeks before the general election, audio leaked of what appeared to be Jackson Lee swearing at a staffer.
“I know I’m not perfect,” she replied in a statement.
As Rottinghaus noted, they added a poll question about leaked audio in November, and while most people said it didn’t make a difference, a “sizeable percentage” said it did. Those people were younger, and especially younger women—two groups that Jackson Lee needed to win over.
Aside from the leaked audio, Jackson Lee went into the second election with the most unfavorable votes. From the October poll School of Entertainment at the University of Houston 43% said they would never vote for Whitmire, compared to 15% who said they would never vote for him. In the same poll, 41% said they had a “very unfavorable” view of Jackson Lee, 28% had a “very favorable” view, 13% reported a “very unfavorable” view of Whitmire, and 27% said they had a “very unfavorable” view. . “Most favorable” view.
But Whitmire has been dogged by conflicting allegations of interest as a state senator. As stated therein Houston Chronicle, Whitmire was accused of blurring the line between public and private roles. Whitmire maintains that the Legislature is part-time and receives a salary of $7,200 a year, making it impossible to avoid conflicts of interest.
“The main difference is that when I’m mayor, I’ll be a full-time mayor. I won’t have a law practice,” Whitmire said at a debate earlier this week. “I might dispute some of the Chronicle’s issues but not necessarily. It involves legal practice. Most of the allegations came from previous campaigns. We make $600 a month as a senator. … You have to have civilian jobs, and that’s where most of it came from.”
Harris County, which includes Houston, is the target of a state audit of voting in 2022 and 2023, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law this year that removed Harris County’s election administrator and shifted responsibility to other local officials. This election is the first election under the new system.