Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire was elected as Houston’s next mayor on Saturday, defeating Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) in a runoff, the Associated Press projected.
Whitmire has stood as a staple of Houston politics, serving as an elected official in the state for over five decades. Jackson Lee, the city’s long-term congresswoman, had faced an uphill battle in spending and the fallout over her alleged beratement of staffers.
In October, audio leaked of Jackson Lee appearing to call a staffer “fuckface,” “shitass,” and “Boo Boo.” The congresswoman later apologized for the incident.
“I recognize that in my zeal to do everything possible to deliver for my constituents, I have in the past fallen short of my own standards and there is no excuse for that,” she later said in a statement. “To anyone who has listened to this recording with concern, I am regretful and hope you will judge me not by something trotted out by a political opponent, that worked to exploit this, and backed by extreme Republican supporters on the very day that polls open, but from what I've delivered to Houstonians over my years of public service.”
Jackson Lee’s campaign chair was hospitalized in October after he was assaulted by a man who had allegedly harassed him in the months prior.
Whitmire will succeed Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is barred from running again due to term limits.