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Moderate Democrat Wins U.S. Houston Mayoral Race

Texas State Senator John Whitmire, a veteran moderate Democrat, was declared the winner of the Houston mayoral runoff election shortly after polls closed Saturday evening in the fourth largest U.S. city.

The state senator dominated U.S. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a fellow Democrat, in the early vote tally, surpassing his opponent by more than 40,000 votes to secure 65 percent of early voters’ ballots, according to the Harris County Clerk’s Office.

The two advanced from a Nov. 7 election featuring 18 candidates when Whitmire ran 9 percentage points ahead of Jackson Lee. Neither he nor Jackson Lee got the majority needed.

Since then, Whitmire spent more than 2 million U.S. dollars on ads, while Jackson Lee spent just over 60,000 dollars, local media reported.

Much of Whitmire’s campaign focused on reducing crime.

“What we have to do is hold violent offenders accountable, help the nonviolent offenders turn their lives around. I have a very clear record of being tough and smart on crime,” he said at a recent debate.

Whitmire led strongly among older white voters, conservatives and Latinos. Houston is one of the country’s most diverse large cities, so winning the mayoral election means winning the support of a diverse group of voters.

Whitmire, 74, is the longest-serving member of the Texas state Senate. He has been elected to the Texas Senate since 1982 after serving 10 years in the Texas House of Representatives.

He will succeed Sylvester Turner, whose eight-year tenure as Houston Mayor ends this year.