Elections 2020FederalCrowded Field of Candidates Finalized for Texas’ 6th Congressional District Special Election

A total of 23 candidates, including 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, filed to run for the special election in Texas’ Sixth Congressional District.
March 3, 2021
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With the vacancy left in the wake of Republican Congressman Ron Wright’s death, Governor Greg Abbott called a special election for Texas’ Sixth Congressional District set for Saturday, May 1 with a candidate filing deadline that was on Wednesday.

By the end of the day, 23 candidates filed with the secretary of state for a position on the ballot in the DFW-area district, which covers the Southeast portion of Tarrant County along with Ellis and Navarro counties.

The race will feature 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats, as well as one independent candidate and one Libertarian candidate.

On the Republican side, the apparent front runner in the race is Susan Wright, the widow of the congressman whose seat she is now campaigning for.

A longtime GOP activist alongside her late husband, Susan Wright is currently a member of the State Republican Executive Committee and worked as the district director for former state Rep. Bill Zedler and his successor, Rep. David Cook (R-Mansfield).

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She has already compiled a long list of endorsements, including U.S. Reps. Lance Gooden (R-TX-05), Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19), and Chip Roy (R-TX-21); state Reps. Cook, Stephanie Klick (R-Fort Worth), Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington); Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley; Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn; and a long list of other local officials and Republican activists.

However, a long list of other Republicans is challenging Susan Wright for the seat.

Perhaps most familiar to the district is state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Midlothian), who last ran for the district in 2018 when the seat was open, but lost to Ron Wright in a primary runoff by 4.4 percent.

A pair of former officials under the Trump administration is also in the running — former Department of Health and Human Services Chief of Staff Brian Harrison and former assistant administrator for the Small Business Administration Sery Kim.

Harrison and Kim are not the only candidates in the race with a Trump connection, though.

Dan Rodimer, an attorney and former WWE wrestler from Nevada, filed with the secretary of state at the last minute.

Rodimer previously ran in the general election for Nevada’s Third Congressional District, in which he received the endorsement of Trump, though he lost to the Democratic incumbent by three points.

Asked if he had Trump’s support for this race, Rodimer reportedly said, “We’ll see.”

Notably, Trump’s former campaign advisor, Katrina Pierson, announced on Tuesday that she decided against running for the seat.

Pierson was heavily rumored to be in the running, including in an article from The Hill which said sources expected her to receive Trump’s endorsement when she entered the race — but that didn’t pan out.

Another Republican seeking to win the race is attorney John Anthony Castro, who previously challenged Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) during his 2020 primary campaign but received only 4.5 percent of the vote.

Castro told The Texan that he plans to spend $500,000 of his own money in the race and more recently said that he spent a fifth of that “buying every single billboard in [TX-06] and enough signs to cover every corner of the district.”

“Establishment is freaking out with my candidacy b/c we don’t need them,” he tweeted.

Other Republicans to file for a place on the ballot include Michael Wood, a Marine Corps veteran who has set himself apart in headlines as an anti-Trump GOP candidate; police officer Travis Rodermund; Army veteran Mike Egan; business and English lecturer Michael Ballantine; and Jenny Garcia Sharon, who ran in the last general election against Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35) in the solidly Democratic Austin district.

On the Democratic side, Jana Lynne Sanchez, who ran against Ron Wright during the general election in 2018, was one of the first to announce her candidacy.

Lydia Bean, a sociologist who previously taught at Baylor University and who ran for the state legislature in November against Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth), filed for the federal seat on Tuesday.

Shawn Lassiter, a former teacher, withdrew from an ongoing Fort Worth City Council race to run for the congressional district.

Other Democrats in the race who filed the necessary paperwork include developer Matt Hinterlong, pastor Patrick Moses, systems engineer Brian Stephenson, Army veteran Daryl Eddings, attorney Tammy Allison, realtor Manual Richard Salazar, and Paramedic Chris Surpun.

The race will also feature one independent candidate, banker Adrian Mizher, and one Libertarian candidate, Phil Gray, who lists his occupation as “property management.”

The district leans Republican with a Cook Partisan Voter Index score of R+9, meaning the district voted in the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections nine percent more in favor of Republicans than the average nationwide congressional district.

Though the district has seen some leftward shift in recent elections alongside many other suburban areas, Trump still carried the district in the 2020 election with three percent of the vote and Ron Wright defeated his Democratic opponent by nine points.

However, the peculiar circumstances of the election present a potential opportunity for either party to move on to a runoff election without members of the opposing party, depending on how divided the vote is.

If no candidate secures over 50 percent of the vote in the special election, the top two candidates will move on to a runoff election.

Previous election results suggest that slightly more than half of voters will cast their vote for a Republican, while slightly less than half will vote for Democrats.

If only one or two Democratic candidates carry a larger share of the vote than how the Republican vote is divided, they could move on to a runoff without anyone on the ballot from the other party.

The reverse is also possible, where two Republicans could walk away with the largest shares of the vote and exclude Democrats from the runoff.

Regardless, given the large field of candidates from both parties, the probability of a runoff election is quite high.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.