Amanda Edwards outraised Sheila Jackson Lee by more than 10-to-1 in the last quarter, FEC filings reveal

Former Houston City Council Member Edwards raised nearly $272,000 towards her bid for the Democratic nomination in Texas’ 18th Congressional District in the final three months of 2023. Congresswoman Jackson Lee raised just $23,000.

Sheila Jackson Lee and Amanda Edwards
Bill Clark/Amanda Edwards campaign website
(Left) Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and former Houston City Councilor Amanda Edwards.

Former Houston City Council Member Amanda Edwards outraised Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee by more than 10-to-1 in the last quarter. It's the latest sign Jackson Lee faces a tough Democratic primary fight to keep her 18th Congressional District seat.

Edwards raised nearly $272,000 in the last three months of last year, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. Jackson Lee, who was running for Houston mayor for much of that time, raised just over $23,000.

"I think that our strong fundraising numbers reflect the energy that people have in the community towards investing in the change that they want to see," Edwards said. "Right now, I think a lot of people feel shut out by the dysfunction in Washington, and they are looking for new ideas, not just a fresh face, but new ideas, a new approach, new solutions to some of the lingering challenges that we face."

Edwards ended 2023 with nearly $856,000 in the bank. Much of that fundraising came from her earlier campaign for mayor of Houston, a race from which she withdrew in June to run for Jackson' Lee's congressional seat. Jackson Lee, by contrast, ended the year with roughly $223,000 in hand.

Edwards aims to translate her cash advantage into votes. "We'll knock (on) doors," Edwards said. "We'll continue to make calls. We'll also send out our mail. We will also, of course, be on television, radio, you name it."

Jackson Lee's campaign did not respond to a request for an interview.

Michael Adams is the founding executive director of Texas Southern University's Voter and Civic Engagement Institute. He said Jackson Lee's fundraising shortfall should come as little surprise.

"Going back to the last three congressional cycles, she's never had formidable candidates that have forced her to go out and be a prolific fundraiser. And we also saw that when she ran for mayor, she didn't, it paled by comparison with what Whitmire had," Adams said.

Jackson Lee's failed bid for mayor revealed a potential weakness even among her core constituents. An analysis of HarrisVotes.com data from the December runoff election shows that Jackson Lee barely carried the 18th Congressional District against then-State Senator (now Mayor) John Whitmire, racking up just 51% of the vote to Whitmire's 49%. Turnout in the district was just 17% of registered voters.

HarrisVotes.com data
Hector DeLeon
Data from HarrisVotes.com, compiled and analyzed by Hector DeLeon

"We know that (in) the primary election, the turnout could be even lower than what we saw in the mayor's race," Adams said. "Given those numbers, Sheila Jackson Lee – I don't want to say she's in trouble, but Amanda Edwards, if she uses the money, in terms of advertising and how she comes up with an effective message, it would be a very competitive election."