Molly Cook wins special election to fill John Whitmire’s Texas Senate seat

by Cayla Harris at

Emergency room nurse Molly Cook won a special election Saturday to finish the remaining term of former state Sen. John Whitmire, who stepped down from the state Legislature four months ago to become the mayor of Houston.

Cook held an early double-digit lead over state Rep. Jarvis Johnson, also a Democrat, that only grew over the course of the night, according to complete but unofficial returns.

She will represent the deep-blue Senate District 15 at least until next January, but her victory may be short-lived. Both candidates are back on the ballot for the Democratic primary runoff on May 28, when voters will effectively decide who will represent the district for a full four-year term.

In the March primary, Johnson and Cook came out on top of a six-candidate field to receive 36% and 21% of the ballots cast, respectively.

Cook’s win could give her a bump in her final three weeks on the campaign trail, as she could lean into her newfound incumbent status and court additional donors.

“When we win again on the 28th, I will organize Senate District 15 to be the highest Democratic turnout district in the state and fight for our candidates up and down the ballot,” Cook said in a press release after declaring victory Saturday night. “I have the skills, courage and faith in our communities, and I am ready to save lives.”

While Johnson did not immediately concede, he issued a statement bemoaning poor voter turnout and encouraged his supporters to prioritize the runoff at the end of the month.

“Your vote in the primary runoff is crucial to ensuring our district is represented by a Democrat who can go toe-to-toe with Greg Abbott, the NRA, and the Republicans’ hateful agenda,” he wrote.