Tuesday was election day in a special race to select a successor to Rep. Ron Wright in Texas’ Sixth Congressional District. Wright died from the Wuhan coronavirus.
The candidates were Wright’s widow, Susan Wright, and Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey. Both are conservative Republicans.
Susan Wright was the favorite and the leader in polls. She won the most votes in the primary, in which Ellzey barely finished second, just 354 votes ahead of the leading Democrat. In addition, Wright had the endorsement of former president Trump.
How did he do it? It must have helped that Ellzey had the backing of key Texas Republicans. Among them were former Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Dan Crenshaw, and Joe Barton who represented the district in Washington until a sex scandal forced him out. However, Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Wright.
Ellzey is a graduate of the Naval Academy, He served as a fighter pilot, doing tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq. From 2012 to 2018, he was a commissioner of the Texas Veterans Commission. He was elected to the state legislature last year. In 2018, he ran a close race against Ron Wright for the same House seat he won this time around.
Although Trump endorsed his opponent, Ellzey did not run as an anti-Trump candidate. Even so, the fact that he pulled off an upset victory over the Trump-endorsed candidate can be viewed as evidence that the ex-president’s influence among Republicans is waning, at least in this particular Texas district.
Trump’s team doesn’t see it that way. It blames the Club for Growth for inducing Trump to back a low-energy candidate against a proven vote-getter.
I should also note that there was no Democrat in the runoff race. Many Democrats simply stayed home — turnout for this election half of what it was for the primary. However, some Dems voted, and it’s likely that Ellzey fared better than Wright with this cohort.
But Mark Davis, a conservative talk show host in Dallas said:
The Trump base in District 6 paid little attention to the fact that Susan got his endorsement. They know that Trump had no familiarity with her and no familiarity with this race.
When, for whatever reason, the Trump base pays little attention to a Trump endorsement, that’s evidence of a loss of influence.
The Sixth District includes suburbs of Dallas/Fort Worth. Trump’s endorsements probably carry greater value in more rural districts. But any sign of waning Trump influence among Republican voters has some significance and, from my perspective, is good news.