Rep. Jarvis Johnson, D-Houston, announced Tuesday he will run for Texas Senate to fill the seat currently held by mayoral candidate John Whitmire.
“I know the issues affecting our communities. We’ve been neglected by the state. They’ve underinvested in our children’s futures,” Johnson said in a video posted to social media.
He also went after Gov. Greg Abbott, saying the third-term Republican is seeking to defund Texas schools with his voucher proposal and that the GOP is “attacking Harris County and trying to take away our freedom and our liberty.”
A business-owner and lifelong Houston resident, Johnson previously served on the Houston city council and was elected to the state House in 2016.
During his time in the Legislature, Johnson has pushed to end Confederate Heroes Day as a state holiday and served as vice chair of the public safety committee, where he advocated for a bill championed by Uvalde families that would have raised the age to buy a semi-automatic gun.
Whitmire is a front runner in the race to become Houston’s next mayor. If he fails to win the Nov. 7 election, it’s not clear whether Johnson would still choose to challenge the longtime senator who is the only Democrat to chair a committee in the GOP-dominated Senate
You can see that video here. Rep. Johnson joins a field that includes Molly Cook, Karthik Soora, and most recently Todd Litton. I think he’s been a pretty good State Rep, and I look forward to seeing what kind of campaign he runs.
Two points to consider: One is that between the entries of Litton and now Rep. Johnson, I sense that a perhaps now increasing number of people are betting on a Whitmire victory in the Mayor’s race. I can’t quantify this, and it’s the easiest hot-take thing to say since it isn’t based on anything but a vague gut feeling. It would also be easy for Rep. Johnson to stay where he is and run for a mostly obstacle-free re-election; making this announcement ensures that other people, ones who will be capable of mounting a credible campaign, will now take steps towards filling the seat he holds. At the very least, that will be awkward if in fact Whitmire does not get elected Mayor. Politicians tend to have pretty sensitive risk calculators. That he would risk this should tell us something, however we want to interpret it.
And two, just as the loser of the presumed Whitmire-SJL runoff will have the time to file for their old seat in the event that becomes an option, so would Rep. Johnson be able to change his mind if he needed to. As with Whitmire and SJL, he will find that he has company in that race, and a tailor-made “he doesn’t actually want this job” attack to be levied on him. Like I said, this is where his risk calculator led him.