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U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is joining the Houston mayoral race, scrambling the already crowded field.
“Sheila Jackson Lee wants to come home to be your mayor for the city of Houston,” Jackson Lee said at a church event Sunday. “I will not be able to do it without each and every one of you.”
Jackson Lee's comments were livestreamed by the church, City Cathedral Church, and shared Monday morning by Urban Reform, a Houston online publication.
Jackson Lee enters a mayoral contest that is already well underway. The early frontrunner has been state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, and his competitors include Chris Hollins, the former Harris County clerk; Robert Gallegos, a member of the Houston City Council; Gilbert Garcia, former chairman of the city's Metropolitan Transit Authority; and Amanda Edwards, a former City Council member.
One of Jackson Lee's Democratic colleagues from Houston, U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia, has already endorsed Whitmire. Whitmire declined to comment on Jackson Lee’s announcement.
There has been speculation for months that Jackson Lee could run for mayor. Her aides have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the topic and did not immediately respond to another one Monday morning.
The election is in November, and the seat is open because incumbent Sylvester Turner is term-limited. The office is nonpartisan, though Houston is solidly blue and most of the prominent candidates identify as Democrats.
Jackson Lee has been in Congress since 1995 — one of the most senior Texans in Congress — and established herself as a Democratic icon in Houston. She would not have to give up her congressional seat to run for mayor.
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