U.S. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee is refocusing her attention from Cty Hall to Capitol Hill.
Texas’ 18th Congressional District’s longtime incumbent representative has decided to seek reelection just days after she lost a runoff election in the race to be mayor of Houston.
Without mentioning Saturday’s lopsided loss to Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire, Jackson Lee triumphantly announced her political intentions in a press release in which she said she felt “compelled” to continue the job she started in Congress.
“I am compelled by the numerous opportunities still ahead to advance the lives of my constituents,” Jackson Lee, also a Democrat, said in a statement announcing her reelection bid. “I am fueled by the belief that experience is essential, yet I also recognize the significance of genuine commitment, steadfast dedication, and a proven ability to deliver results.”
I thought about the many more gifts I have to give to my constituents of the 18th Congressional District. Those gifts involve more hard work and my ability to get the job done! Together, let’s build on the progress we’ve achieved and work towards an even brighter future for all. pic.twitter.com/DNylOdgfmk
— Sheila Jackson Lee (@SJacksonLee) December 11, 2023
Jackson Lee, 73, is entering a race that already has a candidate described by POLITICO as a “frontrunner for the nomination” with whom the Congresswoman is well acquainted.
Former Houston city councilmember and former U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Edwards is one of Jackson Lee’s former Congressional interns.
The reelection announcement prompted another candidate who was also one of Jackson Lee’s former Congressional interns to suspend his campaign in what could be an indication that Edwards’ reported “frontrunner” status may be jeopardized by the incumbent running to keep her seat.
Isaiah Martin said in a joint statement with Jackson Lee that he was endorsing the Congresswoman. He said the decision to end his campaign was partly because he has no interest in “primarying Democrats [like Jackson Lee] who deliver.”
I’ll be suspending my campaign for Congress and endorsing @SJacksonLee. Our focus must be on flipping the House and electing more good democrats — not primarying great members.
I couldn’t be more thankful for all of your support; this isn’t the end of our story; trust me. pic.twitter.com/TgOMg6RwRW
— Isaiah Martin (@isaiahrmartin) December 11, 2023
Jackson Lee has represented Texas’ 18th Congressional District since 1995.
The esteemed member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) and former chair of the influential bloc of African American House Reps and U.S. Senators has a record on Capitol Hill that speaks for itself.
It includes notable moments forever etched in history like introducing Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump and introducing a bill to establish a commission to study and develop reparations proposals for Black descendants of American slavery.
Political analysts pointed to an “October surprise”-style report in the days ahead of the general mayoral election in Houston that irreversibly rocked her campaign – a revelation that likely helped Whitmire in the long run.
In that instance, a recording was leaked to the media purportedly containing audio of Jackson Lee insulting her staff with extremely disrespectful language.
The Texas Tribune reported on the audio:
On the recording, which is about a minute and a half, a voice that sounds like Jackson Lee’s can be heard erupting at a staffer who does not have a document she was looking for. She tells the staffer she wants him to have a “fuckin’ brain” and says “nobody knows a Goddamn thing in my office – nothing.” She refers to another staffer, who is apparently not in the room, as a “fat-ass stupid idiot” and adds both staffers are “fuck-ups.”
“It’s the worst shit that I could have ever had put together,” Jackson Lee says. “Two Goddamn big-ass children, fuckin’ idiots who serve no Goddamn purpose.”
The recording emerged nearly five years after one of Jackson Lee’s former interns sued her and the CBC Foundation over allegedly being sexually assaulted in 2015 by her male supervisor at the CBC Foundation. The lawsuit claimed that Jackson Lee fired the intern in retaliation after the intern threatened legal action.
Jackson Lee apologized profusely for the “alleged recording” that she never actually admitted was her voice and condemned it as “something trotted out by a political opponent, that worked to exploit this, and backed by extreme Republican supporters.”
On Saturday, Whitmire was quickly declared the winner in the Houston mayor runoff with just over half of the precincts reporting and twice as much support from voters than Jackson Lee, according to estimates from the Associated Press.
Jackson Lee lost the runoff despite full-throated endorsements from name-brand members of the national Democratic elite, including Hillary Clinton, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
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