Houston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on April 18, 2024
Rep. Johnson and Nurse Cook Set for Showdown in Democratic Runoff for Houston's Senate District 15 SeatSource: Google Street View

The race to fill the Texas Senate District 15 seat is down to two, as state Rep. Jarvis Johnson and emergency room nurse Molly Cook prepare for a heated Democratic primary runoff on May 28, according to The Texan. The vacated seat, left open by John Whitmire who stepped up to serve as Houston's mayor, has sparked intense debate and scrutiny over the candidates' backgrounds, voting records, and alignments. Johnson secured 36 percent of the ballots during the March primary, followed by Cook at 21 percent, as The Houston Chronicle reported.

In addition to the primary runoff, a special election on May 4 has been scheduled to determine who will complete Whitmire’s term. The upcoming face-off has been marked by pointed exchanges between Johnson and Cook, with Johnson touting his political experience and Cook calling out his voting and fundraising records. The Houston Chronicle has documented the escalating tensions between the two candidates who, presented contrasting visions for the district during a recent debate.

Johnson, who has been in the Texas House since 2016 and previously held a position on Houston's City Council, criticized Cook for her lack of governmental service. "The Senate is not a place to learn politics," he said, underscoring the need for political acumen. Cook, however, has emphasized her activism and engagement at the grassroots level, mentioning her efforts to combat projects like the Interstate 45 expansion and increase Houston's influence in regional planning.

The debate also highlighted their differing stances on issues like health insurance for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and public education. In the fundraising arena, Johnson and Cook have reported raising $443,700 and $420,400 respectively, with a notable $110,000 of Johnson's campaign funds originating from the Charter Schools Now PAC, a point of contention raised by Cook. "I promise never to touch dark Republican money that is floating through these PACs," Cook said, criticizing her opponent’s sources of campaign finance.

Both candidates have expressed their dedication to challenging the Republican leadership and carrying forward progressive agendas involving public education, health care, and women’s reproductive rights. Notably, Cook has received endorsements from the Texas Organizing Project and Annie’s List, while Johnson boasts support from figures such as Congressman Al Green and the Houston Police Officers Union. Whichever Democrat wins the runoff will face local businessman Joseph Trahan in the November general election.