The Special Election That Could Forecast Trump’s Influence In Texas

Two Republicans move to a runoff in the race to represent Texas’ 6th Congressional District in the southeast Dallas-Fort Worth area.

By Laura RiceMay 3, 2021 11:04 am

Two Republicans out of 23 total candidates were the top vote-getters in a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Ron Wright. Wright died of COVID-19 in February.

Wright’s widow, Susan Wright, received a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and earned the most votes in the race. She, along with second-place finisher and current state representative, Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), advance to a runoff.

University of Texas at Arlington Political Science Chair Rebecca Deen was watching the race closely. She says it’s a little surprising two Republicans came out on top.

“[The district] had been trending Democrat over the last several election cycles and several presidential cycles,” Deen told Texas Standard. “Former President Trump won the district by 12% in 2016, and then only by 3% in 2020. So the Democrats have been making ground. But in a field this large, it was just really hard for the Democrats to overcome the sort of natural Republican edge.”

Deen says Trump’s influence in this election is undeniable.

“You had Congressman Wright’s widow, Mrs. Wright, being endorsed by the former president, and then you had two other candidates in the field who had worked in the Trump administration,” she said.

But Deen says whether this election result reveals anything about Texas politics as a whole is unclear.

I think we’ll see whether or not the former president continues to have the sway,” she said.

Texas’ 6th Congressional district is a mix of rural and suburban areas, and Deen says turnout across the district could determine which issues get focus in the runoff.

“If turnout is very high in Ellis and Navarro [counties], I think it’s going to be about the things that rural counties care about: land use and high-speed rail and eminent domain and all of those sorts of things,” she said.

A date for the runoff election has not yet been set. Deen expects it will be in June.

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