County Judge Lina Hidalgo Celebrates Her Win With Supporters

Hidalgo with leaders of organizations that helped along her campaign trail.
Hidalgo with leaders of organizations that helped along her campaign trail. Photo by Faith Bugenhagen

Packed into the Democratic Party headquarters on Wednesday afternoon, crowds of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s supporters erupted into applause as she gave her re-election speech. She won her seat against Republican challenger, Alexandra del Moral Mealer, in a close race that resulted in a 2 percentage point gap: 51 percent to 49 percent.

Ushered in by county Commissioner Rodney Ellis, Hidalgo addressed the crowd thanking those who assisted her along the campaign trail. She then thanked Mealer, for the effort in the race, her concession, and her service to the country.

Hidalgo expressed her enthusiasm toward her past projects as county judge and her plans to continue work in law enforcement improvement, early childhood education opportunity, and community-wide infrastructure projects. She then proceeded to repeat her re-election speech in Spanish as is her usual custom.

It will probably be somewhat easier to achieve her goals since the incoming board, thanks to Tuesday's election, will have three Democratic commissioners and one Republican. Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia , a Democrat, held Tuesday onto his seat while Republican incumbent Jack Cagle was defeated for challenger Lesley Briones.

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County Judge Lina Hidalgo embraces Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia at the speech event.
Photo by Faith Bugenhagen

Prior to her re-election, Hidalgo had come under criticism by Republican commissioners over her proposed budget increases. This alongside continued questioning from local and state officials concerning the 2020 election and the huge amount of fundraising Mealer was able to do posed challenges in Hidalgo's effort to retain her position.

"They came at us with everything; with money, smears, attacks, and the dirtiest political tricks from the Governor to the Lieutenant Governor and the County Comptroller," Hidalgo said.

Hidalgo's victory was announced after a long and confusing night, following a judge's order for all Harris County polling locations to remain open until 8 p.m. in response to reported technical difficulties and late starts. That order was then suspended by the Texas Supreme Court.

Although all 782 polling sites in Harris County remained open, the votes that were collected during the extra hour-long period were cast on provisional ballots. These ballots were then separated from the normal ballots collected during regular operating hours. It has not been determined as to what will happen with these votes, said Clifford Tatum, Harris County election administrator.

Hidalgo said she was glad that the initial votes were in, but added that the county planned to look into anything they may need to once the election came to a pause. "The dust needs to settle a little bit, if there are issues that we need to dig into we will as an Elections board but I think for now it is too soon to say," Hidalgo said. 

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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.