Newly Re-elected Lina Hidalgo Mocks Rivals

Mae A.
Lina Hidalgo addresses her supporters after defeating challenger Alex Mealer.Screenshot from KPRC2 News/YouTube

By Mae A.

Houston, TX - Democrats lost big at the state level in the Texas midterms but held on to their blue bastion of Harris County - and County Judge Lina Hidalgo shamed her detractors as she lapped up her "sweet" victory.

Addressing her supporters Wednesday, Hidalgo mocked the high-profile figures who politically and financially endorsed her opponent Republican Alexandra del Moral Mealer. "Sure she had almost $10 million in the bank, and she had a US Senator, and she had a furniture salesman," Hidalgo said pausing to allow a rumble of snickers and laughter.

"You can't win them all, you can't win all your bets," she added, referring to Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Houston mega-philanthropist and business owner Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale.

Hidalgo barely defeated Mealer in a fierce and often acrimonious race. The GOP poured just shy of $9 million into Mealer's campaign in their bid to stop Hidalgo from retaining her seat for a second term; the Judge barely raised $2.4 million.

The GOP came close to ousting Hidalgo Tuesday, with Mealer losing by just under 16,000 votes, or 1.4 percentage points. By comparison, Democrat gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke, who lost his race against Governor Greg Abbott, won Harris County by 9 percentage points, according to NPR.

Hidalgo was a virtual unknown when she narrowly beat out then-County Judge Ed Emmet four years ago and she's been a bane to the Texas GOP ever since. She emerged as a rising star among Democrats at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when she defied Governor Abbott's ban against mask mandates, arguing that Harris County was still at a high-risk level.

But her star has taken a beating over recent months as she became mired in corruption scandals, and was accused of defunding the police and the district attorney's office, the latter being a charge that came from District Attorney Kim Ogg, a Democrat. Hidalgo has also been blamed for the rise in local crime and homicides, and her narrow victory against Mealer could be indicative of democrat voters joining that chorus.

But Hidalgo was defiant Wednesday and said she wouldn't forget those in her party who declined to help her raise funds, and she issued a challenge to rivals in both parties. "Bring it on! Bring. It. On!" she said.

This was Mealer's first foray into the political scene; a West Point graduate and army veteran who served in Afghanistan, Mealer made public safety - or the lack of it - the focus of her campaign. She hammered away at Hidalgo and Democratic judges for a lax bail system that allows repeat offenders back on the streets and insufficient police on the ground, both of which she says are behind the county's high crime and homicide rate. She also zeroed in on the corruption scandals surrounding Hidalgo and her staff.

"This campaign has always been about good government and I am hopeful we have played a role encouraging that going forward," Mealer said in her concession statement Wednesday.

Hidalgo has accused Mealer of denying President Biden's 2020 win, a claim Mealer denies. Hidalgo jumped on Mealer's silence on Texas' strict abortion law, but the position of county judge has no bearing on the law.

Hidalgo did thank Mealer for her "hard-fought campaign and her ... concession and her military service."

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I cover Houston entertainment, community events, and local politics.

Houston, TX

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