Democrat Jolanda Jones narrowly wins special election for state House seat in Houston

Jolanda Jones. (Social Media, Social Media)

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Democrat Jolanda Jones edged out her opponent Danielle Keys Bess in a special election Saturday to finish the term of former state Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

According to unofficial returns, Jones got 52% of the vote, with 48% going to Keys Bess. They were separated by a difference of 202 votes, which means the election is eligible for a recount if Keys Bess petitions for one. A spokesperson for Keys Bess said Monday evening that the campaign is still weighing its options.

Jones is a former member of the Houston City Council and Houston ISD board. She said on Twitter that she was "honored & humbled" to represent the district. Keys Bess is a real estate agent with a background in political campaigns.

Coleman resigned in February after announcing last year that he would not seek reelection due to health reasons. His Houston-area district favors Democrats in November.

A win for Jones means she would hold the seat through the end of this year, but the Legislature is not set to meet again until January.

Jones and Keys Bess are also candidates in the May 24 primary runoff for the next full term in the seat, which begins in January. Jones got 42% of the vote in the crowded March primary, while Keys Bess received 20%.

In a statement Monday, Keys Bess said she's still feels hopeful about her chances in that race.

"Our perseverance with the next primary runoff campaign will allow us to move forward and is an indication of what we can accomplish while addressing the concerns and issues of the district," she said.

Jones had the backing of Coleman and other prominent Houston Democrats, such as state Sen. Borris Miles and U.S. Rep. Al Green. But Keys Bess also had well-known endorsers among Houston Democrats, like U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and state Rep. Harold Dutton.

Jones raised more money, but Keys Bess remained competitive in fundraising. There was little conflict between the two, as Jones campaigned as a fighter for Democrats and Keys Bess stressed the need for collaboration.

Rebekah Allen contributed to this report.