Garnet Coleman endorses Jolanda Jones as successor
Jolanda Jones, Garnet Coleman and Danielle Keys Bess

Former Houston state Rep. Garnet Coleman has endorsed former Houston City Councilmember Jolanda Jones in both the special election and the runoff primary to replace fill his seat in the state Legislature. Coleman had previously said he would not make an endorsement, leaving the choice of his replacement entirely up to the voters.

Asked why he had reversed his position and endorsed Jones over Realtor Danielle Keys Bess, Coleman told Houston Public Media he hesitated to wade in to the original seven-person primary race. But things became clearer when the race narrowed to two. 

“I thought about the last session of the Legislature and particularly in the House and how it requires someone to fight and probably will for a while, and I think that Jolanda is best suited for that,” Coleman said.

In a statement, Jones said she was proud to have the outgoing lawmaker’s endorsement.

“For him to pass that baton of trust to me is humbling and awe-inspiring,” she said. “For that, I am grateful. No one can truly replace him, but I will continue to be guided by his work, his passion and his dedication.”

Coleman said he wants someone who’s willing to fight the Republican leadership on issues that matter to him, like strict new election laws, abortion issues, the rights of transgender children, and Medicaid expansion. He added that he believed Jones was also capable of working across the aisle when necessary, saying he believes, “she knows when a good deal is to be had.”

Coleman represented House District 147 for 31 years, before announcing his retirement in November 2021. He then decided to retire early, on February 28, triggering a special election to fill out the remainder of his current term.

Danielle Keys Bess, Jones’ rival in the May 24 runoff election and presumed opponent in the May 7 special election, did not respond to requests for comment.

Political watchers expected Bess to benefit from the support of U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston. The congresswoman has not openly endorsed Bess, but she has close political ties to Bess’ employer, Gerald Womack.

Coleman’s endorsement could more than counter Jackson Lee’s support, should she choose to weigh in on Bess’ side.

“It’s a signature endorsement and a huge feather in (Jones’) cap.” said Michael O. Adams, a political science professor at Texas Southern University, “and it will also help her in terms of her fundraising.”