Jackson Lee Trounced In Houston Mayoral Race
The runoff election on Saturday for mayor of Houston was a head-to-head matchup between controversial Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and state Sen. John Whitmire (D). Whitmire’s surprising margin of victory will reshape the nation’s fourth-largest city’s political landscape and spotlight internal strife in the Democratic Party as the 2024 election cycle looms.
Whitmire and Jackson Lee are both well-established figures in Texas politics. Whitmire has served in the state legislature since 1973. Jackson Lee has represented her Houston district in the U.S. House of Representatives for almost three decades.
The top issue in the race was the ongoing surge in violent crime in Houston, with Whitmire running on a platform promising to take immediate action to protect public safety and get criminals off of the city’s streets. Politico noted that the contest “illuminated the fault lines within the Democratic Party over how to deal with crime on a local level.”
Houston, we dodged a problem! pic.twitter.com/yEU5pkFuik
— Ryan Cook (@ryanc_2025) December 10, 2023
Whitmire has a long-standing reputation as a tough-on-crime Democrat with a strong focus on state laws addressing public safety. He attracted votes in the heavily blue city by promising to bring safety back through increased policing. His position brought him widespread support from moderate Democrats, independents, and Republicans who did not have a candidate in the runoff between the top two vote-getters in the general election.
Sheila Jackson Lee Loses Race for Houston Mayor. It Wasn't Even Close and Reactions Are Great – RedState https://t.co/rd92J79vJf
— James Hirsen (@thejimjams) December 10, 2023
Meanwhile, Jackson Lee’s campaign took the standard progressive leftist approach of appealing to the broad spectrum of fashionable social issues, especially access to elective abortion on demand. City voters were not sold on her social justice sloganeering compared to Whitmire’s real-world proposals to improve daily life.
In the end, Whitmire trounced Jackson Lee on Saturday by almost 30 percentage points, exceeding the expectations of polls that were in his favor in the weeks leading up to the runoff.
Thoughts and prayers to Sheila Jackson Lee's staffers in this dark time. https://t.co/MPxp0Oudyn
— Rob Pyers (@rpyers) December 10, 2023
Even though Jackson Lee enjoyed endorsements from high-powered leftist national politicians like Hillary Clinton, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), her campaign never found its footing with voters who weren’t accepting of a continuation of the Democratic social justice agenda.
Controversies and blunders also beset her campaign. During the campaign, a leaked video showed her berating staffers and treating them poorly. She also made a gaffe that brought jeers when her campaign ran an ad telling voters to remember to vote on December 7, when the election was actually on December 9.