According to unofficial election results, the former at-large Houston City Council member and Houston ISD trustee captured 52 percent while real estate agent and Democratic activist Danielle Keys Bess trailed at 48 percent, with a margin of a mere 202 votes.
The special election gives Jones legislative duties during the Texas legislature’s interim period since Coleman’s retirement is effective immediately, but she will again face Bess in a Democratic primary runoff election on May 24 to represent the southeast Houston district during the 2023 Texas legislative session.
In the interim, Jones will represent the district under the previous maps, but the boundaries will shift somewhat after November due to redistricting. According to The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index, House District 147 rates D-79%.
During this election cycle, Jones has significantly outraised Bess with $242,000 to $159,000. Jones touts endorsements from Coleman, Rep. Al Green (D-TX-09), and state Sen. Boris Miles (D-Houston).
Endorsements for Bess include her previous employer, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18), along with state Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and Houston ISD trustee Elizabeth Santos.
While no Republicans filed to run in the special election, the winner of the Democratic primary runoff will face Republican nominee Damien Thaddeus Jones, a controversial figure who previously worked for then-state Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and Beto O-Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign.
Damien Jones, who defeated Rashard Baylor in the Republican primary last month, is under indictment on misdemeanor charges of coercing a public servant and false caller ID information, after he allegedly threatened to expose then-state Rep. Gina Calanni (D-Katy) for personal behaviors if she did not resign from her seat in December 2019.
He also allegedly informed private investigators working with conservative activist Steven Hotze about possible ballot fraud operations in Harris County prior to an incident that has led to the indictments of Hotze and former Houston police captain Mark Aguirre. While Damien Jones is still on the ballot, he has not actively campaigned for the seat since winning the March Republican primary.
Coleman, a 30-year veteran of the Texas House, has battled serious health problems and had his right leg amputated last summer. By retiring early, Coleman said he hoped the interim would allow the next representative to better prepare for the next legislative session.
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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.