U.S. Rep. Lizzie Fletcher, D-Houston, on Tuesday announced an endorsement from the Republican mayor of her district’s third-largest city, one week after securing support from the GOP-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
West University Place Mayor Bob Higley is backing Fletcher over his party’s nominee, Army veteran Wesley Hunt. Hilshire Village Mayor Russell Herron also endorsed Fletcher Tuesday, though her campaign identified him as a Republican before putting out an updated news release that labeled him a “Jeffersonian.”
The endorsement rollout is Fletcher’s latest move to cast herself as a moderate Democrat who opposes her party’s most progressive ideas, while Hunt has portrayed her as an acolyte of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and argued her voting record is too extreme.
Higley in a statement said Fletcher “meets us where we live” and “asks for grass-roots opinions on local, small city issues.”
Herron, who represents the smallest city in the district, said he does not identify with either major political party, though the Jeffersonian ideology favors strong states’ rights and a limited federal government — themes found in today’s Republican Party. He said he has “never seen a congressional representative that was more concerned with the people they represent” than Fletcher.
Higley, who like Herron was elected to a nonpartisan position, identifies as a Republican. He also has endorsed Republican Tom Ramsey, who is running for a seat on Harris County Commissioners Court.
Hunt, meanwhile, announced an endorsement Tuesday from Bill Archer, a Republican who represented Texas’ 7th Congressional District from 1971 to 2001. Fletcher unseated Archer’s Republican successor, John Culberson, in 2018. She is the first Democrat to hold the seat since 1967, the year Archer’s predecessor George H.W. Bush was sworn in.
The battle for moderate and right-leaning voters holds particular weight in the 7th Congressional District, which has undergone a dramatic political shift in recent years. Republican Mitt Romney captured 60 percent of the vote there during the 2012 presidential election, while Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the west Houston district by 1.4 percentage points four years later.
Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who lives in the 7th Congressional District, lost the district by seven points in 2018, while GOP Gov. Greg Abbott won it by the same margin.
Fletcher also announced endorsements Tuesday from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, a Democrat, and the five living former Houston mayors: Annise Parker, Bill White, Lee P. Brown, Kathy Whitmire and Fred Hofheinz.
Hunt has been endorsed by President Trump, Cruz and James Baker, a longtime Bush confidant and former secretary of state. He also has the backing of Hunters Creek Village Mayor Jim Pappas, Bunker Hill Village Mayor Robert Lord and business groups including the National Federation of Independent Business and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Greater Houston.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, endorsed Fletcher last week along with 22 other freshman House Democrats and 29 first-term House Republicans. The group has spent more than $100 million backing Republican candidates during the last 10 years, according to Politico, which reported that the wave of Democratic endorsements was “triggering a revolt” and “drawing fierce pushback” from Republican donors.
The chamber, through its political action committee, contributed $2,500 in June to the campaign of Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls, the Republican nominee in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, which borders the 7th District.