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Of course there’s already a Mayoral poll

From the Daily Kos Morning Digest:

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Veteran Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee upended Houston’s race for mayor on Sunday when she announced her entry into the crowded field looking to succeed term-limited incumbent Sylvester Turner this fall.

Jackson Lee has represented the Houston area in Congress since 1995, after she won a landslide 63-37 primary victory over then-Rep. Craig Washington, who had opposed projects important to the region such as the International Space Station. During the ensuing three decades, Jackson Lee burnished her reputation as an outspoken progressive and became one of the most prominent Democrats in the city, giving her instant name recognition. She also won’t necessarily have to give up her safely blue House seat (which includes 20% of Houston’s population) in order to seek the mayoralty, since voters will decide this November, with a runoff the following month if no candidate takes a majority.

That seems likely, given the large number of hopefuls already vying to run Texas’ largest city. The most notable of these is state Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat who’s been running since 2021 and has a $10 million war chest. He also has the support of a number of major Republican donors as well as Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia, who represents a district that neighbors Jackson Lee’s.

A pair of conservative organizations, the Houston Region Business Coalition and Protect and Serve Texas PAC, responded to Jackson Lee’s announcement by releasing a month-old survey from Republican pollster Ragnar Research showing Whitmire with a slender 20-19 lead over the congresswoman, with three other candidates in the low single digits and a large 46% plurality undecided. The two groups, however, emphasized a head-to-head matchup between the two that had Whitmire in front 45-33. Both say they have not endorsed in the race, though HRBC has backed Whitmire in the past despite typically backing Republicans.

While the race is officially nonpartisan, almost all of the credible candidates are Democrats. No Republican has been elected mayor of Houston, which voted for Joe Biden by a 64-32 margin, since Jim McConn won a second two-year term in 1981. (Mayors only began serving four-year terms in 2015.) Houston is also a very diverse city, with an eligible voter population that’s 34% white, 31% Hispanic, and 28% Black. Like Jackson Lee, two of the contenders named in the Ragnar poll, former City Councilor Amanda Edwards and former Harris County interim Clerk Chris Hollins, are Black, while Whitmire is white and City Councilor Robert Gallegos is Latino.

See here for the background, and see also my admonition about polling in Houston elections. This same poll was also cited in the updated Chron story about Rep. Jackson Lee’s announcement. Note that the poll in question predated Gilbert Garcia’s entry into the race, which is likely why his name wasn’t mentioned.

I feel like we’re going to have more polling data that usual for this race, and I just want to remind everyone that each poll is a data point and nothing more. It’s possible we’ll see some trends, and in those trends we may see clear signs of how the race may play out. It’s also possible we’ll get a bunch of seemingly random and contradictory numbers that tell us nothing. Remember that we’re still a long way out, the campaigns have barely begun, and that a lot of factors can and will affect the outcome. Don’t read too much into any single poll result and you’ll probably be fine.

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  1. Manny says:

    Repeating, Whitmire is the Republican candidate; there is a reason he carried the Republican message in 2022.

    “n what was at times a fiery press conference on public safety spending, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo accused fellow Houston Democrats of lying and compared state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) to Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.

    Hidalgo’s comments came in response to a question from FOX 26 reporter Greg Groogan, who quoted Whitmire as saying, “The nonsense of experimenting with defunding the police so you can fund other programs.” But Commissioner Adrian Garcia (D-Pct. 2) cut him off before he finished the quote, and Hidalgo called Whitmire’s comments a “laughable lie.”

    “You know why John Whitmire is saying that? Because he’s running for office,” quipped Hidalgo, referencing the senator’s plan to run for Houston mayor. “He’s willing to pander just like all of these Trump sycophants are willing to pander and say the election was stolen.”

  2. Manny,

    John Whitmire has been a Democrat for over 40 years. Still, out of the announced Democratic mayoral candidates, I agree that Whitmire will probably be the most acceptable choice to many Republican voters. That said, Whitmire will also appeal to many moderate and conservative Democrats. Remember, Houston residents are still very concerned with the high crime rate, and Whitmire has been a strong supporter of law enforcement efforts (public safety is one of his highest priorities). Also, Whitmire is not nearly as divisive as SJL. In a run-off with SJL, I believe Whitmire would be the acceptable choice to the majority of voters, Democrats and Republicans alike.

    Personally, I would like to see Chris Hollins and Whitmire in the run-off. So far, I like those candidates the most.

  3. Manny says:

    Greg, I know what label Whitmire has used; where he ran, he had to call himself a Democrat.

    The crime rate, you mean the Republican’s way of scaring the people so that they vote for them? Their slogan of 2022.

    By divisive, do you mean white people don’t get scared of a white male but do get scared of blacks?

    If Hollins and Whitmire were in a run-off, you would consider voting for Hollins. I don’t believe you. I have previously stated that, in my opinion, you are a Republican masquerading as a Democrat.

    Republicans don’t have policies; they have slogans to keep people scared.

    Whitmire was one of the water boys for the Republican Party here in Harris County in 2022.

  4. Manny, it appears you only see left-wing, liberal progressives as “true” Democrats. Believe it or not, I can be a moderate, like Whitmire, and still be a Democrat. It’s true that I believe Party affiliation should only take a candidate so far. At the end of the day, I vote for the person that I think will do the best job. I didn’t support Hidalgo because of the alleged bid-rigging, wasteful spending, no-bid contracts, and general incompetence. That doesn’t make me a Republican.

    Anyway, in a matchup between Whitmire and Hollins, Whitmire has the advantage of 40+ years experience in public service, while Hollins has youth and the proven ability to innovate. I was very impressed with the competence Hollins displayed while serving as Harris County Clerk. Both of those candidates are very concerned with violent crime and see public safety as a top priority. I’m currently undecided.

    The Democratic Party is the Party of inclusion. In your estimation, is there no room for folks like me?

  5. Manny says:

    Of course, there is, but Whitmire was a water boy for the racist party.