2022 Runoff Election ResultsElections 2022Local NewsAlexandra del Moral Mealer Cruises to Victory, Will Face Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in November

The West Point graduate and former Army captain ran away with more than 75 percent of the vote from a heated Republican runoff campaign.
May 25, 2022
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Former Army Captain Alexandra del Moral Mealer has decisively defeated Vidal Martinez by capturing more than 75 percent of the vote in a Republican primary runoff election for Harris County judge.

“I am extremely proud to have earned the Republican nomination for Harris County Judge,” Mealer said in a statement. “I was nominated with a broad, diverse coalition of support, and we will continue to build on this incredible momentum.”

Unofficial totals posted by Harris County indicate Mealer captured 85,498 votes: more than three times Martinez’s 27,810.

A graduate of West Point, Mealer served with an Army bomb squad in Afghanistan and later earned business and law degrees from Harvard University. She worked in energy finance after settling in Houston with her husband and is the mother of two young children, but left the private sector to run for county judge.

In what became an increasingly heated runoff campaign, Martinez criticized Mealer for having only lived in the area for six years while touting his long history of serving on multiple boards in Harris County. Martinez drew heavy backlash from the community after he attempted to discredit Mealer with a photograph Fidel Castro signed for her grandfather Armando del Moral in 1952.

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The incident prompted a response from popular local radio icon Michael Berry, who lambasted Martinez on air and drew attention to his campaign donations to Rep Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), former Rep. Rick Noriega (D-Houston), and even incumbent Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, as well as Democratic political action committee Act Blue Texas. 

Although she trailed in fundraising before the nine-way GOP Primary in March, Mealer outraised Martinez over the past two and a half months, reporting $959,653 in total political contributions last week. She frequently impressed supporters with extensive knowledge and understanding of county finances.

Mealer will now face incumbent Judge Lina Hidalgo, who has received praise as a rising Democratic Party star and reported $1.5 million in total political contributions as of February 2022.

Prior to her surprise victory in 2018 with less than 50 percent of the vote, Hidalgo worked as a medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center in Houston and volunteered for the Texas Civil Rights Project. A graduate of Stanford University, Hidalgo also worked for international media group Internews.

Since taking office, Hidalgo has overseen a major restructuring of county government that included moving elections responsibilities to an appointed administrator and concentrating authority under an appointed county administrator.

Hidalgo led the commissioners court to accept a controversial federal consent decree governing misdemeanor bail in the county, and in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic attempted to issue emergency orders that would have released large numbers of suspects from the jail system.

Amid public outcry over rising crime, Hidalgo has pushed funding for alternative programs such as the $50 million initiative to fight crime by adding sidewalks, streetlights, and trees to blighted neighborhoods.

After three of her staffers were indicted on felony charges related to an $11 million COVID-19 vaccine outreach contract, Hidalgo accused District Attorney Kim Ogg, her fellow Democrat, of pursuing a “political vendetta.”

Hidalgo has sparred with Ogg over funding for law enforcement and staff necessary to expedite criminal court trials, and with Crime Stoppers of Houston over bail bond practices that have resulted in the release of violent offenders on multiple bonds. With regional homicide numbers second only to Chicago this year, public safety is expected to be a prominent issue heading into the November midterm elections.

“This race for Harris County judge is far more than just a fight for partisan preference, this is a fight to restore Harris County by making it a model of accountable, efficient and effective governance, once again,” said Mealer.

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Holly Hansen

Holly Hansen is a freelance writer living in Harris County. Her former column, “All In Perspective” ran in The Georgetown Advocate, Jarrell Star Ledger, and The Hill Country News, and she has contributed to a variety of Texas digital media outlets. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida with a degree in History, and in addition to writing about politics and policy, also writes about faith and culture.