HOUSTON – Republican challenger Alexandra del Moral Mealer has conceded in the race to become Harris County judge, according to a statement released on her Twitter page. Judge Lina Hidalgo will now serve another term as county judge.
According to Texas Tribune, the race is the first major electoral test for Hidalgo, who became the county’s top elected official in a surprise win against a well-liked Republican in 2018. Since then, the 31-year-old first-time officeholder has risen to superstar status among Texas Democrats and is thought to be a future contender for statewide office.
“While we did not accomplish our goal of changing leadership in Harris County, we were successful in elevating the profile of critical issues like the need to appropriately resource our law enforcement and criminal justice system as well as the desire to eliminate corruption and increase transparency in local government,” del Moral Mealer said. “This campaign was always about good government and I am hopeful that we have played a role encouraging that going forward.”
Since July, Republican donors have poured nearly $9 million into Mealer’s bid to unseat Hidalgo — a staggering haul for a county judge race. Hidalgo, meanwhile, raised about $2.4 million in the same period.
Mealer, a West Point graduate and ex-Army captain who served for a decade in Afghanistan, has hammered Hidalgo over the county’s high homicide numbers — a trend seen in most urban areas of the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic — and a criminal case backlog that dates back to Hurricane Harvey, before Hidalgo took office. She also has reminded voters of the criminal indictment of three Hidalgo staffers — enlisting Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a well-known Houston businessman who has given heavily to Mealer, to highlight the issue in a television ad.
Hidalgo has defended her record on public safety, touting annual increases to the county’s public safety budget each year she’s held the office — a trend broken this year when the two Republican county commissioners in October blocked the five-member commissioners court, headed by Hidalgo, from passing a new annual budget that would have again increased the county’s spending on public safety.