With Democratic primary wins secured, Teare and Jackson Lee look ahead to the general election

Former prosecutor Sean Teare defeated District Attorney Kim Ogg by a 3-to-1 margin, while Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee beat former Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards by 22 points.

By Andrew Schneider, Houston Public MediaMarch 12, 2024 10:30 am, ,

From Houston Public Media:

Tuesday’s Democratic primary resulted in a lopsided win in the Harris County District Attorney’s race for former prosecutor Sean Teare over incumbent DA Kim Ogg. It also saw Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee rout former Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards in the race for Texas’ 18th Congressional District. Now Teare and Jackson Lee can turn their attention to their Republican rivals in the general election, although with possibly different prospects.

The end of an era at the Harris County DA’s Office

Kim Ogg’s defeat came after a hard-fought campaign. She accused Seare Teare of wanting to let violent criminals back on the street. Teare attacked Ogg for creating a toxic work environment in the DA’s office, prompting many skilled prosecutors to leave for neighboring counties. In the end, Democratic voters sided with Teare by 75% to 25%.

“I have worked for crime victims tirelessly,” Ogg said, as she conceded at her watch party at Giant Texas Distillers in Houston’s East End. “And how have we done that? I’ve relied upon my colleagues to take on the largest caseload ever in Harris County history, created as a result of two disasters, which we worked through without a blip in public service.”

Ogg sounded a sour note, arguing she had lost because of an atmosphere of extreme partisanship and an opponent with an overwhelming financial advantage. But she said she was committed to working for the entire community in her remaining nine months in office.

“If doing my job cost me my job,” Ogg told her supporters, “then I leave with my head held high.”

Across the East End, at Eighth Wonder Brewery, Sean Teare said he was excited and ready to shift gears to focus on the general election.

“The message isn’t going to change,” Teare said. “We can have an empathetic justice system that is truly equal across the board, and still one that holds violent criminals accountable and removes them from society. It’s not an either/or. The message is that we’re going to be smart on crime.”

In December, Democratic precinct chairs passed a resolution admonishing Ogg for her willingness to side with Republicans. Teare said that will change if he’s elected.

“We are going to be a thorn in Austin’s side,” Teare said. “We are going to continue to push back against these draconian laws that are getting passed. You’re going to see me in Austin testifying when they try to pass these laws. You’re going to see me in Austin testifying, trying to get these laws repealed, and I’m speaking specifically about the abortion laws and about SB 4.”

But it’s far from clear that Ogg’s supporters will rally to Teare’s side after such a bitter intraparty fight. For some, Republican candidate and fellow former prosecutor Dan Simons might prove an attractive alternative. Simons won the GOP nomination after running unopposed.

“My platform is very simple,” Simons told Houston Public Media. “It’s to restore public safety to Harris County. We have to restore integrity to the DA’s Office, and more importantly, we’ve got to restore public trust in law enforcement. And we have to bring everybody together. We can’t remain divided, otherwise we’re never going to accomplish anything.”

Experience beats the prospect of change in TX-18

Tuesday was hardly a bad night for all incumbents. Sheila Jackson Lee had her closest Democratic primary contest in more than a decade. But she defied expectations of a photo finish in the race for Texas’ 18th Congressional District with a 22-point victory over Amanda Edwards.

Jackson Lee sounded a celebratory note at Chapman & Kirby near downtown Houston. “They said we were down,” the congresswoman said. “They said it would be a close race. But look what the people of the 18th Congressional District said. They said we are worthy. We are worthy.”

Edwards enjoyed a big financial lead over Jackson Lee for much of the campaign. She also had a half-year head start over the congresswoman, who spent much of 2023 running for mayor of Houston. But in the end, what Jackson Lee was able to deliver for the district triumphed over Edwards’ argument that voters wanted change.

“I just wanted to take a moment just to express my gratitude for the hard work that each and every single one of you have invested into this campaign in helping us to get to this point,” Edwards said at the DeLUXE Theatre in Houston’s Fifth Ward.

Jackson Lee’s Republican opponent in the general election is immigrant and former federal officer Lana Centonze, who defeated Aaron Ray Hermes by just over six points. Centonze faces significantly longer odds than Edwards did in her quest to push Jackson Lee into retirement. No Republican has won Texas’ 18th Congressional District since 1972, just after the state Legislature moved the district to Houston from north Texas. Jackson Lee has represented the 18th for more than half that time.

Additional reporting by Lucio Vasquez, Tom Perumean, and Ashley Brown.

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