Despite a hard-fought campaign by Republican Alexandra Del Moral Mealer to take back the county judge seat from Democrat incumbent Lina Hidalgo, who has held the office in Harris County since 2018, Hidalgo will maintain her seat.
With a new elections administrator at the helm and a history of election issues, Harris County voters experienced yet more delays in voting on Tuesday. Causes for these delays ranged from a shortage of paper ballots to malfunctioning equipment. Due to these delays, Harris County polls remained open until 8 p.m.
Harris County then released the results for early voting at 7:30 p.m. before the polls officially closed; Republicans are arguing this was a violation of Texas election law. The county’s election will be audited.
Harris County is still undergoing an audit for the 2020 election.
Despite these problems, the race has been called in favor of Hidalgo, who is infamous for her COVID-19 mandates, “catch and release” bail policies, and so many corruption allegations that the Texas Rangers began investigating her employees. Hidalgo won with a razor-thin 50.74 percent of the vote, a vote margin of a mere 15,000 in Texas’ largest county of more than 4.8 million.
Mealer, who touted the endorsement of Houston’s Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, campaigned on returning law and order to Harris County since crime is on the rise. She made the issue of public safety a centerpiece of her campaign, highlighting that Harris County’s total crime is up by 132 percent, with violent crime 224 percent above the national average.
Throughout her time in office, Hidalgo has consistently posted lower bail rates or even no bail at all for alleged criminals, including cop murderers. Her soft-on-crime stance clearly contributed to her narrow win.
Hidalgo’s policies follow those of her fellow Democrat on the Harris County Commissioners Court, Commissioner Rodney Ellis. A Texas Scorecard investigative report examined how Ellis, previously a state senator, is at the center of a web of political power in Harris County. Hidalgo’s win likely means that power structure will remain intact for now.
Rice University political science professor Mark Jones told ABC13, “Hidalgo still is the favorite, in a sense that she’s in a blue county and she has the support of Democratic activists, she hasn’t lost that.”
Mealer conceded the race Wednesday morning.
Thank you to all those who supported our campaign for good governance pic.twitter.com/ZnjLvtQVTO
— Alexandra del Moral Mealer for Harris County Judge (@AlexMealer4HCTX) November 9, 2022