First, here are the facts.
Democrat Jolanda Jones edged out her opponent Danielle Keys Bess in a special election on Saturday to finish the term of former state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.
According to unofficial returns, Jones got 52% of the vote, with 48% going to Keys Bess. They were separated by a difference of 202 votes, which means the election is eligible for a recount if Keys Bess petitions for one. Keys Bess did not respond to a request for comment.
Jones is a former member of the Houston City Council and Houston ISD board. Keys Bess is a real estate agent with a background in political campaigns.
Coleman resigned in February after announcing last year that he would not seek reelection due to health reasons. His Houston-area district favors Democrats in November.
A win for Jones means she would hold the seat through the end of this year, but the Legislature is not set to meet again until January.
Jones and Keys Bess are also candidates in the May 24 primary runoff for the next full term in the seat, which begins in January. Jones got 42% of the vote in the crowded March primary, while Keys Bess received 20%.
As the story notes, both candidates got some endorsements from various elected officials. What was potentially of interest was how Jones won. Campos explains.
Commentary is kind of surprised that former H-Town city council member and HISD Trustee Jolanda Jones only squeaked by in the special election this past Saturday with a 52% to 48% win. She won by 202 votes over Danielle Keys Bess.
Jones won mail ballot voting by 364 votes. Bess won in person voting by 162 votes.
Mail ballots for the runoff have already been sent to voters so Jones will probably maintain that advantage. Early voting in person begins next Monday and only lasts for five days.
I am curious to know why mail ballot voters who for the most part are 65 and older would support Jones. Just like I would like to know why in person voters would favor Bess. Could it be that momentum was swaying toward Bess toward the end?
A lot of folks said this race was supposed to be a slam dunk for Jones. It wasn’t.
Here’s a chart for the votes by type each candidate got:
Candidate Mail Early E-Day ============================= Jones 845 769 691 Bess 481 817 805
Does it matter? Mail votes count as much as any other kind. When a race has this shape it can look like one candidate has late momentum, which I get and am subject to myself, but I feel it’s an illusion. You could argue that if there has been more time to vote, maybe Bess would have eventually caught up to Jones. You could also argue that if Bess had done better in mail voting, she wouldn’t have needed more time. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
For what it’s worth, Jones dominated mail voting in the March primary, too. She had 56% of the mail vote, and she led in both the early and e-day voting, though by smaller percentages each time. Looks to me like this is a successful strategy so far.
The March primary had 11,800 voters, the May 7 special election had 4,400 voters; I’d guess the runoff will be in between the two. Jones won in each, in the same way. Unless there is something to suggest that the May 7 election actually took a turn late in the race, I’d say she’s in solid shape for May 24. We’ll know soon enough. The Chron has more.