I don’t usually pay much attention to “elected official endorses candidate” news, mostly because most of the time it makes little difference, but in this Mayor’s race I’m more interested than usual, so I will note this for the record.
“If there’s someone that can take the heat on behalf of the communities in Houston and Harris County, it is Sheila Jackson Lee,” Hidalgo said at the announcement in Mickey Leland Memorial Park, where the heat index reached 108 degrees. “Houston will have the best of both worlds, an experienced leader and a creative thinker.”
Jackson Lee is among the front-runners in the November election, along with longtime state Sen. John Whitmire. The crowded field of contenders includes former City Councilmember Amanda Edwards, attorney Lee Kaplan, Councilmember Robert Gallegos and former Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia.
Hidalgo is not the first local politico to pick sides. U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia and state Sen. Carol Alvarado, both Democrats, are supporting Whitmire, among others. Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis endorsed Jackson Lee at the congresswoman’s launch party in April.
The endorsement did not come as a surprise. Hidalgo said Thursday that Jackson Lee was among the earliest supporters of her 2018 campaign for county judge, which she won in an upset. At the ceremony, Jackson Lee said she looks forward to collaborating with Hidalgo, touting her own work collaborating with partners across government while in Congress.
“We should have collaboration and coordination, that’s what government is all about,” Jackson Lee said.
Most of the time, in a tossup-type race between candidates who are ideologically similar, most elected officials stay on the sidelines for as long as they can. No point making someone you might have to work with unhappy with you if you don’t have to. The main exceptions are ones where there was a previously existing relationship, as is the case here. It’s also a little unusual for elected officials to jump into races with a large number of credible candidates. Often the strategy is to wait for the runoff; this applies to various endorsing groups, too. This Mayor’s race, it’s something else. I expect there to be more surprises as we go forward.