Democrat John Whitmire wins Houston mayoral race

Texas state Sen. John Whitmire will be Houston’s next mayor, NBC News projects.

Whitmire defeated Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a fellow Democrat, in a runoff election Saturday to lead the fourth-largest city by population in the U.S.

The two advanced from a Nov. 7 election featuring 18 candidates, when Whitmire ran 9 percentage points ahead of Jackson Lee.

See the full results here.

Whitmire also outraised Jackson Lee and outspent her on the airwaves, according to AdImpact. Since the November election, Whitmire spent over $2 million on ads, while Jackson Lee spent just over $60,000.

One of Whitmire’s ads laid out his vision for Houston, featuring a clip where he tells voters, “We deserve a city government that is responsive to our needs.”

The same ad also featured Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia, who said, “He’s not going to tolerate increased crime in our city. People know that they’ve got a fighter for them, keeping their streets safe and their children safe at school.”

Much of the runoff election centered on the issue of crime. At a recent debate, Whitmire told voters that he was committed to reducing crime.

“What we have to do is hold violent offenders accountable, help the nonviolent offenders turn their lives around. I have a very clear record of being tough and smart on crime,” he said, touting his endorsement from the police officers union.

Jackson Lee won endorsements from the likes of outgoing Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. But Whitmire also benefited from a controversy surrounding Jackson Lee’s campaign after audio emerged in late October of the congresswoman berating a member of her staff for not having a document she was looking for.

Jackson Lee apologized, saying, “I want to convey to the people of Houston that I strongly believe that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that includes my own staff.”

Whitmire is the longest-serving member of the Texas state Senate. His exit from the chamber will trigger a special election to replace him.