Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins Defeats Orlando Sanchez To Be Houston's Next Controller

Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is set to overtake challenger Orlando Sanchez to be Houston's next top financial watchdog.
Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins is set to overtake challenger Orlando Sanchez to be Houston's next top financial watchdog. Screenshot
Former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins defeated Houston City Council Member Orlando Sanchez with 59 percent of the vote to Sanchez's 41 percent as total votes came in early Sunday morning to determine who would be Houston's next controller.

Hollins led significantly in November’s general election, collecting 44 percent of the total votes, compared to Sanchez, who finished with 27 percent.

Once early tallies started trickling in Saturday night, Hollins took to X, formerly Twitter, to share a simple message to his supporters.

Nancy Sims, political science lecturer at the University of Houston, said she had not expected Hollins to head into a runoff as he narrowly missed the 50 percent mark needed to win without one.

Sanchez, who was also a former Harris County Treasurer, had trailed Hollins in polls before the primaries, as local political experts said the former county clerk had more name recognition and dollars to fund his campaign. Hollins had raised well over $600,000, but how much Sanchez generated is unclear as he has not filed a campaign finance report in recent years.

However, Sims said Sanchez did have somewhat of a leg up when it came to being the clear Republican candidate against Hollins, who is a Democrat. This was as opposed to the mayor's race where both runoff candidates are Democrats.

She added many of the voters were likely motivated by partisanship in the controller's contest. This, coupled with the higher Republican turnout generated by District G’s City Council member race between incumbent Mary Nan Huffman and high-profile attorney Tony Buzbee, might have given Sanchez a slight edge to gain more votes in December compared to November.

Despite gaining this traction, Sanchez appeared to be unsuccessful in his third bid to become Houston’s next top financial watchdog. Hollins is set to take over for current controller Chris Brown, who, like Mayor Sylvester Turner, is term-limited and unable to run for re-election.

Brown was first elected in 2016 and has served two terms. Throughout this election cycle, he has warned the upcoming controller to be wary of the “fiscal cliff” Houston is backing up against as soon federal stimulus dollars run out.

Hollins has said he aims to strengthen the city’s finances by issuing audits, reviewing past consultants' assessments and adjusting Houston's property tax revenue cap to help mitigate the city’s economic issues.

He was previously a candidate in the mayoral race before entering the controller race after U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee announced her bid to takeover for Turner.
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Faith Bugenhagen is on staff as a news reporter for The Houston Press, assigned to cover the Greater-Houston area.