John Whitmire, a Moderate Democrat, Wins Runoff for Houston Mayor

John Whitmire, a moderate Democrat who has served in the Texas State Senate since 1983, won a runoff election on Saturday to become mayor of Houston, according to The Associated Press, defeating Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, a prominent congressional Democrat, in the nonpartisan race.

Mr. Whitmire had been considered a front-runner from the moment he entered the race last year, prevailing in a city known for its diversity by creating a coalition that included Republicans and moderate white Democrats as well as Hispanic and Asian voters.

He made public safety the focus of his messaging, following a strategy that has proved successful for moderate Democrats in recent big city mayoral races around the country.

“Tonight is something to smile about,” Mr. Whitmire said in a victory address on Saturday night. “We’re not New York. We’re not L.A. We’re sure not Chicago. We fix our problems,” he said. “Great cities solve their problems. They bring people together. Our campaign united this city.”

Ms. Jackson Lee, 73, a veteran legislator first elected to Congress in the 1990s, entered the race in March with strong backing from many Democrats and Black voters but struggled to establish a message and expand her base of support.

Many Houstonians were already familiar with Ms. Jackson Lee from her years in Congress, her penchant for grabbing the spotlight and her reputation for being tough on staff. Before the initial round of voting, a University of Houston poll found that 43 percent of respondents said they would never consider voting for her, versus 15 percent for Mr. Whitmire.

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