Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Files For Re-Election To Retain Her Congressional Seat [UPDATED]

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee conceded the race to Houston mayor-elect John Whitmire, leaving questions previously unanswered regarding her intent to file for re-election Saturday night.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee conceded the race to Houston mayor-elect John Whitmire, leaving questions previously unanswered regarding her intent to file for re-election Saturday night. Screenshot
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee ended ongoing debate and speculation regarding whether she would run to retain her congressional seat, officially filing for re-election on Monday.

This comes after a blowout defeat against Houston mayor-elect John Whitmire, with Whitmire collecting 65 percent to the congresswoman’s 35 percent. Jackson Lee is opting to compete in a competitive primary against former Houston City Council at-large member Amanda Edwards.

Jackson Lee is typically unaccustomed to facing opposition in her re-election efforts. She has run mostly unopposed all three decades she has served in Congress – excluding four of fourteen election cycles.

Jackson Lee remained relatively broad in her responses when asked about her intent to run before filing, choosing not to confirm or deny the possibility of her participation. The biggest indicator she gave regarding whether or not she would be joining the race was during her concession speech.

“Our work is not completed. This was a journey. I am a public servant, and being a public servant, you never stop working,” Jackson Lee said at her watch party on Saturday night. “I hope you will allow me to continue to work and serve you as I have done in the past. Because that is what I will do.”

According to the Harris County Democratic Party, the congresswoman filed Sunday evening and was accepted into the race Monday morning.

Jackson Lee has ties to Edwards, who served as one of the congresswoman's past interns. The former city council member was also a previous candidate in the Houston mayoral race.

Edwards followed in the footsteps of recently-elected Houston Controller Chris Hollins, ending her bid to become the city’s next mayor once Jackson Lee announced her intent to run to take over for term-limited Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Jackson Lee may also see a challenge come from former University of Houston student body president Isaiah Martin, who previously launched his campaign to take over for the congresswoman in September. He was running to secure a Houston City Council seat but left the race and assisted with Jackson Lee’s campaign.

Martin has also interned for the congresswoman for the last two years. He has not filed to declare his participation in the race despite announcing his bid for Jackson Lee’s seat early this election cycle. He has until 6 p.m. Monday – the filing deadline – to officially submit his intent to join the race.

Although there was some talk Edwards might choose to drop out of the race, she did not. Instead, her campaign released a statement shortly after the congresswoman’s filings became public.

Local political experts say Edwards garners a leg-up against Jackson Lee as she represents a possible wave of change. At the same time, the congresswoman has the seniority and experience to challenge the former city council member.

Those working for Edwards said she remains committed amid the growing support and endorsement from local politicians and political action committees to winning the 18th Congressional District race.

Edward’s statement:

"I entered this race with the belief that it is now time for the 18th Congressional District to be represented by someone who can both bring a fresh, innovative approach to solving our lingering challenges, and help the community reach its full potential," said Edwards. “When we look at the critical need for economic opportunity, infrastructure, and the dysfunction in Congress, it’s no surprise that people are saying that it’s time for change. It is time to do something different in this election so that we can obtain different results for the community.”
Update 2:25 p.m.:

Martin, a possible last-minute add-on to the contest, took to X, formerly Twitter, to suspend his campaign and endorse the congresswoman.

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