Two Republicans — Susan Wright and state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Midlothian) — were the top performers in a field of 23 during the May special election, locking Democrats out from advancing to a runoff for another chance to pick up a new congressional seat ahead of the midterm elections.
Wright, the widow of Congressman Ron Wright whose death in February led to the seat’s vacancy, received 19 percent of the vote in the May 1 election.
Ellzey, the state representative for Ellis County who ran for TX-06 in the 2018 GOP primary election, trailed in second place with 14 percent.
The campaign has been heated, with both Wright’s campaign and the supportive Club for Growth PAC launching attacks on Ellzey, and Ellzey returning with rebukes from campaign allies former Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02).
Prior to the first election in May, the Wright campaign reportedly sent out a mailer attacking Ellzey for his stance on immigration, particularly his opposition in 2018 to then-President Trump’s threat to veto a military spending bill because of a lack of border wall funding.
“I don’t believe he’s for open borders. I believe the policy he advocated for is an open border policy,” said Wright when pressed about the attacks on the Mark Davis Show.
Asked by Davis if he thought that he has any major policy differences with Wright, Ellzey said that, “Irrespective of some mailers that aren’t true, we are very close.”
Ellzey said that the mailers attacking him referenced a 2018 interview with Davis, wherein the former Navy fighter pilot emphasized the need for secure borders.
During that interview, Ellzey said that he would “entertain permanent residency” but not citizenship for illegal immigrants who register with the federal government.
But mailers on immigration are hardly the only attacks Ellzey has received.
Club for Growth, a PAC that emphasizes fiscally conservative policies, has also gone on the offense against Ellzey, spending over $250,000 against him in the race according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The group recently launched a new video criticizing Ellzey for missing votes in the state legislature.
In response to the criticism, Ellzey has pushed out marketing touting support from people who voted for Trump.
Perry and Crenshaw also appeared on the campaign trail with Ellzey, pushing back against the rhetoric criticizing their candidate.
“You know what the Club for Growth is?” asked Crenshaw at a rally. “It’s a bunch of guys in a D.C. office that get paid off by some millionaire to do their bidding. It’s a Super PAC for hire.”
In the candidates’ FEC campaign reports that were due this month, Ellzey showed a strong lead over Wright, raking in $1.15 million to her $454,000.
The fundraising period included the latter half of April, which was just before the special election, through the early part of July.
But where Ellzey may hold the advantage in fundraising, Wright appears to have the upper hand with the endorsements she has received.
After early voting had ended but before the election day on May 1, Trump jumped into the race to endorse Wright and also hold a tele-townhall for her campaign.
That may have been a boon to her poll numbers, as the results for early voting showed Wright and Ellzey in a virtual tie around 15.7 percent, but Wright’s share of the election day votes rocketed to 23.9 percent and Ellzey’s fell to 11.3 percent.
In addition to the Trump endorsement, Wright has also been endorsed by a long list of who’s who in Tarrant County Republican circles, from former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price to Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn.
Early voting will run through Friday, July 23, per Gov. Abbott’s proclamation, and election day for the runoff will be held on Tuesday, July 27.
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
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.