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Turner vs. Buzbee: What you should know about Houston's mayoral runoff election

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (left) and mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee (right) speak to supporters in Houston on Nov. 5, 2019.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner (left) and mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee (right) speak to supporters in Houston on Nov. 5, 2019. (KPRC)

HOUSTON – Houston voters decided a lot of things on Election Day but one major race that remains undecided is who will be the next mayor. 

Incumbent Sylvester Turner faced 12 challengers on Tuesday and needed 50% plus one vote to be elected mayor outright. Turner fell short of the required votes with the final tally at 46%,​ requiring a runoff election with the person who got the second-highest number of votes — millionaire challenger Tony Buzbee. 

So here's what you should know about the runoff election: 

When is it? 

The runoff election for Houston mayor will be Dec. 14. 

How will the runoff results be different? 

Unlike on Nov. 5, there will be only two names on the ballot for the Dec. 14 runoff: Sylvester Turner and Tony Buzbee. With fewer candidates, the votes that previously went to other challengers, like Bill King and Dwight Boykins, will now be split between Turner and Buzbee. As a result, the 18-point margin between Turner and Buzbee can close. 

What has happened in past runoffs? 

In 2015, as Turner made his first bid for mayor, he was up against 12 other candidates. In the election, he had 32% of the vote and former Kemah mayor, Bill King had 25%. As the candidates with the highest percentage of votes, they ended up in a runoff. Turner very narrowly beat King 51% to 49%, with a difference of just 4,000 votes.

What does the polling look like? 

A poll conducted by the Texas Tribune before Tuesday showed Turner could easily beat Buzbee in a runoff, though the millionaire could put in much more money into the runoff race.