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Rodimer arrived in Austin late Wednesday afternoon, telling people he had been encouraged to be led by Cruz and members of Trump’s family, according to two people close to the exchange who requested anonymity.

Rodimer, a unique sensation from World Wrestling Entertainment who lost the Nevada state congressional and senate elections for the past three years, shocked Republicans in Washington and Texas with his decision to enter a crowded field that has 22 other candidates, including the deceased widow member of Congress. He has no previous connection to the district, but has raised over $ 3 million for his 2020 run and could be formidable in a confused run.

His run also raises questions about Cruz’s role. and the future influence of the state. The young state senator and former presidential candidate Recently, he was criticized for taking a trip to Cancun, Mexico, when his state was hit by a severe winter storm. A spokesperson for Cruz did not respond to POLITICO’s request for comment.

Rodimer first attempted to show up on Wednesday afternoon in Fort Worth. When he realized he needed to drop off in Austin, which is several hours away with traffic, he chartered a plane to take him there.

He told people he was encouraged to come to Texas to request the seat by members of Trump’s entourage and that he had come from Mar-a-Lago and would return there after, according to people close to his. trades. He said Cruz “wanted to see him in Congress”, too, according to these observers.

In emailed responses to questions posed by POLITICO, Rodimer declined to respond directly if Trump or his family urged him to start a campaign.

“A number of people have privately encouraged me to run for office in the state. I had dinner with Senator Cruz a few weeks ago, and he thought I should consider a future race, but not specifically this seat, ”said Rodimer.

Nearly two dozen candidates, including 10 Democrats and 11 Republicans, have registered to run in the special election at the end of the filing period. Many local leaders began to unite behind Susan Wright, the widow of the late congressman and a longtime politician in the state and a member of the Republican executive committee of the state of Texas. Other candidates include State Representative Jake Ellzey, a veteran who ran against Wright for the then-open seat in 2018, and Brian Harrison, a former Trump senior aide at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Katrina Pierson, a former of Trump’s best campaigns The spokesperson who showed up for a nearby seat in 2014 was considering an offer but spoke out against it on Tuesday. Rodimer said his decision not to participate in the race convinced him to participate.

But he will certainly have to deal with all-in attacks. It is not known if Rodimer spent a lot of time in the district before running for Congress. He said in a statement that he and his wife decided to move to Texas after his loss last November and landed on Fort Worth for its “Large spaces” and “home feeling”.

“We’ve been looking for houses and apartments for a few months, but we haven’t really thought about running for Congress again,” he said. “It wasn’t until I saw the madness of the Biden administration’s open border policies that I was encouraged to come forward to bring common sense values ​​to Washington, DC.”

Rodimer noted that he previously worked as a homebuilder in Houston and owned a home in Galveston – both being hundreds of miles from the neighborhood.

The race for Texas’ 6th District, which includes much of the area southwest of Dallas and the city of Arlington, will offer a first glimpse into the behavior of suburban voters in the post-Trump era. The May Day race is an all-party election; if no candidate obtains 50 percent of the vote, as is considered likely with that many candidates on the ballot, the race advances to a second lap which will be scheduled later.

In his latest candidacy for a Nevada congressional seat, Rodimer was harassed by the dissemination of his past arrest records. He was charged with assault three times between 2010 and 2013 and hitting someone during arguments at restaurants and nightclubs, the Associated Press reported in October 2019.

House Democrats have aired TV commercials showing his past, citing a police report that Rodimer caused “intracranial bleeding” in a person he assaulted. “Rodimer himself said he liked ‘f —‘ people ‘,” said a narrator in one place.

A second Associated Press report in July 2020 found that Las Vegas police responded to two 911 calls in 2018 from Rodimer’s now wife, alleging domestic violence and that Rodimer stole his jewelry and weapons. The two are now married and have children.

Rodimer lost his 2020 campaign to Democratic Rep. Susie Lee, 49% to 46%, in his swing anchored in Las Vegas.

When he arrived in the state this week, he first inquired about the Texas residency requirement to run for office. He said that recently registered to vote in the state and wanted to make sure it would be enough for him to file, according to people familiar with the exchange.

Republicans are optimistic they will take that seat, but there is some potential for it to become competitive. Although the district has a lot of GOP DNA, it has been trending towards Democrats since 2016. Mitt Romney carried it by 17 points in 2012, but Trump won it by just 3 points in 2020.

A few potentially strong Democratic candidates have come forward for the seat, including educator Shawn Lassiter and Lydia Bean, the 2020 Democratic candidate for a seat in the State House.

Known as Dan Rodman when he performed for World Wrestling Entertainment, Rodimer has made his wrestling background a motif in his campaigns. He is also a lawyer who graduated from Ave Maria Law School in Southwest Florida.

“Everything is bigger in Texas – and you can see my size. I am running because we have to fight to keep our constitutional states favorable to the right, ”he wrote in a statement on his website.

His website also notes that he ran for the Nevada State Senate in 2018. And during his 2020 House race, he received endorsements from Trump and Cruz.

When Rodimer arrived in Texas on Wednesday, he didn’t say he had Trump’s approval for this race – but told people he hoped to get it.

“We’ll see,” he said, according to a source.

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