December 10, 2023

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee loses Houston mayoral runoff election

Controversial Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) -- a frequent critic of former President Donald Trump -- was kicked out of contention to become Houston's new mayor Saturday night, when she lost the city's runoff election in a landslide, as the Washington Times reports.

Prevailing in the contest was Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire, 74, who will now take the lead of the nation's fourth-largest city, as the Times explains.

Landslide election

As CBS News noted, by the time Saturday evening rolled around, Whitmire had pulled away from Lee by an impressive margin of 65.27% to 34.73%.

Though Whitmire and Lee took the top two spots in the Nov. 7 election, the congresswoman was already at a deficit headed into the runoff, according to polls.

Both Whitmire and Lee are declared Democrats, though the race was nonpartisan in nature.

Lee managed to snag a series of high-profile endorsements from folks like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and others, but in the end, the did not make the necessary difference.

Whitmire, for his part, did not shy away from seeking support from Republicans, and he managed tgo secure some significant financial backing from GOP-affiliated donors.

Lee's bumpy road

The congresswoman's bid to become Houston's mayor was beset by a series of hurdles along the way, including the leak of an audio recording in which she was heard angrily – and profanely – berating one of her staffers.

Though she later issued a statement about the incident in which she said, “I know I am not perfect,” polling revealed that a “sizeable percentage” of voters asserted that the episode made a difference in their perception of her candidacy.

Another hiccup for Lee came when an advertisement aired on her behalf implored residents to “vote on or before December 7th,” despite the fact that the runoff took place on Dec. 9, with early voting ending on Dec. 5, a message that caused all sorts of confusion, according to CBS News.

What comes next?

Amid her resounding defeat in Saturday's contest, many are wondering what comes next for the embattled congresswoman who has represented the 18th Congressional District dating back to 1995.

Given that she did not have to resign her House seat to run for mayor, Lee has the option of running for another term – and enjoying the inherent advantages of incumbency – or simply retiring from Congress and moving on to something new.

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