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U.S. Houston Mayor Election Faces Runoff Next Month

Houston mayoral candidates, Texas State Senator John Whitmire and U.S. House Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, are heading to a runoff in December for leading the 4th largest city in the United States for the next four years.

As of late Tuesday night, returns of early voting and mail-in ballots showed the two veteran Democrats share a large lead in the 18-challenger mayoral race focusing on crime and infrastructure.

Whitmire, who courted Republicans during his campaign as a bipartisan coalition builder, has so far garnered 43.8 percent of votes, followed by Jackson Lee supported by progressive voters with 35.6 percent of votes. None of them received a majority in the all-party primary, NBC News projected.

A runoff is required under Texas law when no candidate receives a majority of the vote.

Prior to Tuesday’s first-round election, a survey found that crime remains the major concern of Houston voters, with four out of five people saying crime should be a top priority for the next mayor.

About two out of three say the City Hall should focus on the poor condition of city streets and roads, the economy, jobs, and flooding, according to the survey published last month by the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston.

“We found the perception of crime as a serious concern is consistent across all ages, racial, ethnic and other demographic groups,” said Renee Cross, senior executive director of the Hobby School.

Incumbent Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat who was first elected mayor in 2015, is not allowed to run for a third term.