Rep. Jackson Lee, state Sen. Whitmire likely favorites as Houston selects next mayor

Voters in Houston headed to the polls Tuesday to elect the next mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city, choosing from a crowded field that includes U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Sen. John Whitmire, two longtime Democratic lawmakers.

Jackson Lee and Whitmire have dominated an open mayoral race that drew 17 candidates to the ballot and one write-in candidate, and that has been focused on issues of crime, crumbling infrastructure and potential budget shortfalls.

If elected, Jackson Lee would be Houston’s first Black female mayor. Since 1995, she has represented Houston in Congress. Whitmire has spent five decades in the Texas Legislature, where he has helped drive policies that were tough on crime while casting himself as a reformer.


If no candidate manages to get more than half of the vote on Tuesday, the top two will head to a runoff, which would be held Dec. 9.

Jackson Lee, 73, and Whitmire, 74, have touted their experience in a race to lead one of the youngest major cities in the U.S.

About two weeks before the election, Jackson Lee’s campaign had to contend with the release of an unverified audio recording, which is purported to capture her berating staff members with a barrage of expletives.

Booming growth over the last decade in Houston has caused municipal headaches but has also turned the area into an expanding stronghold for Texas Democrats. Although the mayoral race is nonpartisan, most of the candidates are Democrats.

Whitmire and Jackson Lee are seeking to replace Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has served eight years and can’t run again because of term limits.

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