In Tuesday’s election, neither Mayor Sylvester Turner nor major Trump donor Tony Buzbee secured enough votes to outright win Houston’s mayoral race. The two will now head to a runoff election in December, but given Tuesday’s results, it’s probably Turner’s race to lose.
An official vote count from Tuesday’s mayoral election is not yet available. As of Wednesday morning, Turner had 47% of the vote to Buzbee’s 28%.
The ongoing mayoral race for America’s fourth-largest city has seen clashes flooding mitigation, firefighter pensions, the city’s budget, and crime. The race took off several weeks ago when both candidates began trading scathing attacks in ads that one might assume would only be reserved for the grimiest of up-ballot races.
In the race so far, Turner’s strategy has been to frame Buzbee, who self-funded his campaign to the tune of almost $10 million, as a loyal ally to President Trump. In one ad, Turner called Buzbee a “Trump imitator” and highlighted his $500,000 donation to Trump’s inauguration committee.
Buzbee returned the favor by framing Turner as a corrupt politician leading a crime-ridden city– an accusation the House Chronicle swiftly fact-checked, leading Buzbee to react in ways that more or less made Turner’s “Trump imitator” argument for him.
Leading up to election day, political observers were unsure if the incumbent mayor would be able to win the race outright, a consequence of a crowded race with plenty of candidates who were able to siphon some support from him.
But voters overwhelmingly came out in support of Turner, a likely result of what voters remember most about Turner’s tenure: his leadership during Hurricane Harvey and his work on ending Houston’s $7.8 billion pension crisis.
Tuesday’s race was the first mayoral election Harris County residents used a new voting system that allowed voters to cast their ballot at any polling location on election day. There were a few reported errors at a couple of locations, but overall there were no major problems seen in Harris County’s 700+ polling locations that could have affected the race.
The runoff election to decide the race between Turner and Buzbee will take place on Dec. 14, 2019.
photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images