HOUSTON—State Sen. John Whitmire beat U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee in the runoff election for mayor Saturday.
After neither Democrat candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in November, Houston residents cast their ballots again in December, ultimately granting Whitmire the victory with more than 65 percent of the vote.
Whitmire, 74, has been a state lawmaker for 50 years. His brother’s widow, Kathy Whitmire, served as Houston’s mayor from 1982 to 1991.
His campaign focused on issues like crime and infrastructure.
Jackson Lee, 73, has been in Congress for 28 years. She began her political career in Houston as a municipal judge appointed by Mayor Whitmire in 1987, then served on the Houston City Council from 1990 to 1994.
Her campaign was plagued with scandal after a profanity laced audio recording of Jackson Lee was leaked to the public just as November’s early voting began. In the audio, Jackson Lee repeatedly curses while berating a staff member.
Jackson Lee initially called the recording a “low-handed political tactic” by “political operatives” backing Whitmire, but she later acknowledged the audio’s authenticity and said she was “regretful.”
Jackson Lee conceded to Whitmire Saturday evening.
Whitmire celebrated the win and said, “While this marks the beginning of the true challenge ahead, as you all know, my only reason for running was to make a difference. I’m fired up to get started.”
Whitmire replaces outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner, who could not run again due to term limits.