Some 23 candidates are on the ballot on Saturday as voters in north Texas choose who will replace U.S. Representative Ron Wright, a Republican who died earlier this year after contracting Covid-19.
The race to represent Texas’ 6th Congressional District, the hotly contested first special election in President Joe Biden’s term, is a jungle primary with 11 Republicans, including Wright’s widow, 10 Democrats and two more.
If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the race will head to a second round featuring the top two. Surveys end at 7 p.m. PT, 8 p.m. ET.
Get updated race results live on NBC News
It’s a favorable race for Republicans. The district, which encompasses a suburban swath of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolis, has been represented by a Republican for over 30 years and Wright won his election last fall by about 9 points. There are also fears that a Democratic candidate could be excluded from a possible second round, leaving two Republicans to clash. Yet the neighborhood itself is oriented to the left. As the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney won the district by 17 points, while former President Donald Trump won it last fall by just 3.
The Republican frontrunner is Susan Wright, the widow of the late congressman and a longtime activist in local GOP politics. Other Republicans include three former Trump administration officials – Brian Harrison, Sery Kim and Michael Egan – as well as State Representative Jake Ellzey, Michael Wood, an Afghanistan war veteran and an anti-Trump Republican. who won the support of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who competed in a Nevada congressional race last year.
Trump endorsed Wright late in the race, though several Republicans are eagerly vying for his support. At the end of this week, the contest was disrupted by a robocall in the neighborhood accusing Wright of causing her husband’s death.
The call, a recording of which was obtained by NBC News, was first reported by Politico. “It is illegal, immoral and false. There is no sewer too deep that some politicians do not want to dig,” Wright said in a statement to Politico. The Wright campaign returned the call to local and federal law enforcement, and its origins are still unclear.
On the Democratic side, Jana Lynne Sanchez, who ran for seat in 2018, is considered the party’s first. Other contenders include Lydia Bean, a former candidate for the State House, and Shawn Lassiter, a nonprofit leader and educator.