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Jackson Lee files to run again after losing race for Houston mayor

15-term Democrat will face competitive primary to stay in House

Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee filed to run for reelection Monday after losing a runoff election Saturday for mayor of Houston.
Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee filed to run for reelection Monday after losing a runoff election Saturday for mayor of Houston. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two days after losing her bid to become Houston’s next mayor, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee filed for reelection to the House, setting up a competitive March 5 primary against a fellow Democrat who was once her intern, Amanda Edwards.

“I am compelled by the numerous opportunities still ahead to enhance the lives of my constituents,” Jackson Lee, 73, said in a statement posted on the social media platform X.

“My commitment encompasses hard work geared towards securing better education for children, ensuring affordable housing for young families, fostering an improved quality of life for seniors, protecting reproductive rights, stopping the spread of gun violence, bringing down crime, and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations, she wrote.

On Saturday, Jackson Lee lost the mayoral runoff to state Sen. John Whitmire, 65 percent to 35 percent. She finished second behind Whitmire in an 18-candidate election in November.

Edwards, an attorney and former at-large member of the Houston City Council, announced in June that she was running for the 18th District seat currently held by Jackson Lee. Edwards had raised more than $1 million and had $829,000 in her campaign account on Sept. 30, while Jackson Lee had $213,000, according to disclosures to the Federal Election Commission.

In a video message posted Monday on social media, Edwards promised to bring “a fresh perspective” to Congress.

“When I first got started on my congressional journey, I went all over the district and one thing became clear: This district is ready for change,” she said.

Aerospace consultant Isaiah Martin, another former Jackson Lee intern, had also announced that he was seeking the Democratic nomination and had about $284,000 in his campaign account as of Sept. 30. He announced Monday afternoon he was suspending his campaign and endorsing Jackson Lee.

“Our party must have unity; with so many federal dollars available to bring back to our district, we need to send Congesswoman Sheila Jackson Lee back to Washington,” Martin said in a statement. “Having served 28 years, she has a lot of seniority, meaning it will be a lot easier for her to bring back federal funding than any freshman member.”

The 18th District includes much of Houston, and the 2024 race for the seat is rated Solid Democratic by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Jackson Lee was first elected in 1994 and won reelection in 2022 with more than 70 percent of the vote after being unopposed in the Democratic primary.

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