Texas Republicans Battle to Fill U.S. House Seat
AUSTIN, Texas – The Republican widow of a Texas congressman who died earlier this year from Covid-19 faced an aggressive challenge Tuesday in a special second round to fill her husband’s vacant seat in the Room.
Susan Wright, whose husband Ron Wright died in February about two weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, was assisted in May by a last-minute endorsement from former President Donald J. Trump. In a 23-vote contest to represent the state’s sixth congressional district, she won about 19 percent of the vote – well below the 50 percent majority needed to avoid a runoff.
On Tuesday, she faced Jake Ellzey, also a Republican and freshman state representative who narrowly missed the Republican nomination for the seat in 2018. Mr. Ellzey led with 53.4% of the vote around 90 minutes after the polls close, but no. winner had been declared.
Ultimately, the election, which was expected to draw far fewer voters than the May primary, was less about two ideologically similar candidates and less about the influence Mr. Trump would have in getting people to vote Ms. Wright. . In a duel of former Republican leaders, Rick Perry, former state governor and former cabinet member in Mr. Trump’s administration, backed Mr. Ellzey, who, like Mr. Perry, is a former military pilot .
The contest between Ms Wright and Mr Ellzey, which topped a Democratic candidate by 347 votes to secure a spot in the second round, disappointed Democrats, who hoped to tap into a reservoir of changing demographics and Hispanic and Afro growth -American in a district where Mr. Trump gained just three percentage points in November. The sixth district represents three counties just south of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
Ms Wright, 58, is a longtime Republican activist who is committed to continuing her husband’s legacy on a host of Conservative priorities, including abortion, guns and immigration.
Mr. Ellzey, 51, a Navy veteran, is in the midst of his first term in the Texas House of Representatives.
Both candidates are backing Republican-backed voter reshaping legislation in Texas, a move that prompted Democrats to leave the state to block a vote just days after a special session.
The winner will join the second largest congressional delegation – 23 Republicans and 13 Democrats – to the United States House behind California. The Sixth District faces inevitable change as state lawmakers draw new lines in Congress.
The so-called Trump Factor was the biggest subplot in Tuesday’s contest, with Ms. Wright and her supporters hoping the approval would propel her to victory. The former president retains a huge grip on Texas Republicans, and he carried the district 12 points in 2016 before losing ground in the region to President Biden last year.
Ms Wright, who entered the contest two weeks after her husband’s death, displayed support for the former president throughout his campaign and introduced Mr Trump in a virtual rally on the eve of the election on Monday evening.
The Club for Growth, a conservative tax organization that backed Mr Trump in 2020, has also aligned with Ms Wright, spending $ 1.2 million to fund ads and mailings attacking Mr Ellzey’s legislative dossier and its conservative references, eliciting fierce rebuttals.
While the two contestants share similar views on most basic issues, the Club for Growth attacks injected a harsh tenor into the race, becoming an issue themselves. Mr. Perry, the former governor, described them as “garbage cans” and “absolute garbage cans” and demanded Ms. Wright disown the allegations, which she refused to do.
Joe Barton, who has represented the district in Congress for more than three decades, said the tone of the Club for Growth ads was a factor in his decision to support Mr Ellzey, despite being friends with the Wrights.
Prior to Tuesday’s race, Mr. Ellzey had raised $ 1.7 million, far more than the $ 740,000 raised by Ms. Wright, according to media reports.
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