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Houston mayoral race heats up with attack ads by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

In Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's first ad, she links her opponent, State Sen. John Whitmire, to Governor Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump.

HOUSTON — With less than eight weeks to go until Election Day in Houston, the most recent polling shows two well-known candidates are leading the race to succeed Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

State Sen. John Whitmire has an edge over Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee by 34% to 32%. 

If these numbers hold up, the race would go to a December runoff and that's where things really get interesting. In a runoff, Whitmire blows Jackson Lee out of the water 51% to 33%. 

Numbers like that are probably the reason behind new attack ads as Jackson Lee tries to rally Democrats.

In Jackson Lee's first ad of the campaign season, the narrator attacks Whitmire, a fellow Democrat, and links him to Republican Governor Greg Abbott and former President Donald Trump. KHOU political analyst Brandon Rottinghaus said that's clearly strategic. 

"The gloves are off, this is a new kind of race," Rottinghaus said. "Up to now, it's been having forums, but both parties recognize they have to throw some punches here. This the first among many haymakers we're going to see thrown."

Whitmire is also out with an ad of his own but the approach is much different. So far, he's focusing on introducing himself to voters. It's a positive ad with no real attacks. 

The Whitmire campaign is responding to the Jackson Lee ad with a statement to KHOU 11 News. 

“John Whitmire has been endorsed by leading Democrats such as Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia, Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Carol Alvarado and many others. He has always been a proud Democrat. His record on reproductive health care for women and support for our Black, Latino, Asian and LGBTQ+ communities is impeccable. Our campaign will continue to tell the story of John Whitmire and what he will bring to the City of Houston as Mayor.”

Early voting is set to begin in just 41 days on October 23.

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