Houston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 26, 2024
Houston's Democratic Primary Heats Up as Underdog Slater Endorses Incumbent Jackson LeeSource: Wikipedia/The Clerk of the United States House of Representives, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a surprising twist on the road to the Democratic primary, underdog candidate Robert Slater has decided to back out and throw his support behind the longstanding incumbent, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Slater, a Houston chef and businessman who had been trailing significantly in the polls, announced his decision yesterday.

Despite having a notable career and platform focusing on key issues such as education, health care, and criminal justice reform, Slater was unable to truly to compete against Jackson Lee's well-entrenched support base in Texas' 18th Congressional District. With just 3% support from likely voters in the recent University of Houston poll, the decision to suspend his campaign seemed inevitable. Slater acknowledged his position in a statement obtained by the Houston Chronicle, saying, "I don't have the benefit of having 28 years of an incumbency and name ID."

This leaves Sheila Jackson Lee and Amanda Edwards as the primary contenders in a surprisingly tight race, with Jackson Lee holding a mere five-point lead according to Houston Public Media. Jackson Lee, who recently came up short in her bid for Houston's mayoral seat, is not in a position to coast through this primary, a situation somewhat unfamiliar for the Congresswoman.

"I would say that the incumbent is vulnerable," Renée Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School, stated to Houston Public Media. With shifting demographics and Edwards' successful fundraising overshooting Jackson Lee's efforts by a considerable margin, the incumbent's dominance is clearly being tested. Edwards has managed to secure $269,000 in the recent fundraising quarter, dwarfing Jackson Lee's $23,000, as reflected in campaign finance reports.

The Democratic primary isn't the only race drawing attention in Houston. The race to fill Mayor Whitmire's former seat in the Texas State Senate has evolved into a near-dead heat, leaving voters indecisive amongst the leading candidates. With 37% of voters still unsure, the contest paints a picture of a healthy but entangled democratic process, spotlighting the unpredictability of this political season in Houston.