Observers: Beating Jackson-Lee Will be Tough

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has represented the 18th district of Houston since 1995. In the past those who’ve run against her have barely put up a fight. But this year could be different with Houston City Councilman Jarvis Johnson announcing he’ll take on Jackson Lee in the Democratic Primary. Bill Stamps went to the 18th district to see what people are saying about the race.


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She’s been called a lot of names: outspoken, egotistical, publicity hound. Still, Sheila Jackson Lee just keeps on going. You never know where she might show up. She even managed to get herself on the podium at the Michael Jackson memorial and even that had nothing to do with politics.

Here’s part of her speech:

“And I can tell you as a member of the United States Congress, we understand the constitution. We understand laws and we know that people are innocent until proven otherwise. That it what the constitution stands for.”

To say Jackson Lee has been controversial might be an understatement. But many also consider her one of the hardest working politicians around…and she hasn’t lost an election in years.

So can she be beat by city councilman Jarvis Johnson?
I asked Texas Southern University political professor Maurice Mangum about Johnson’s chances.

“Virtually impossible. Typically, challengers to incumbents like this lose.”

Houston’s Paris Eley was once a marketing director for the old Motown records. He believes both Jackson Lee and Johnson are strong candidates.

“We talk about issues and we talk about the politics of it, but it’s about who is going to make the better candidate. That’s the practical aspect. We all have our leanings our predilections, but it’s actually about who is going to run well and sometimes it reverts to who governs well.”

Henderson Smith also lives in the district. He wouldn’t say who he was voting for but says the race is an important one.

“Sheila’s the incumbent and obviously she has some credibility and clout and a longstanding history of being service oriented in the community and Jarvis is the new comer on the block and he’s making a bid for a position that I think is going to have an impact on Houstonian’s lives for a long time to come.”

Jackson-Lee got a lot of negative publicity over the summer for her behavior at some of the health care forums. She was caught on tape talking on her cell phone while someone in the audience was asking her a question. This is professor Mangum again.

“Even though she may be disliked because she’s doing a number of grand standing things. Hey, she’s trying to do what she can to stay in people’s minds. Any publicity is better than no publicity.”

Jackson Lee:”And I call Michael Jackson the Good Samaritan and I call…”

We won’t have to wait long to see how this all plays out, the primary is months away.

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