Political observers were eager to take greater significance from Saturday’s special election to replace U.S. representative from Arlington, Ron Wright, particularly what he would say about former President Donald Trump’s power in the Republican Party.
It said a lot – but not the way many thought, or perhaps hoped.
The race, which ran until a still scheduled second round, proved that Trump and his policies still matter greatly to GOP voters. Susan Wright, the Republican looking to replace her late husband, got Trump’s backing at the end of the campaign, and that surely helped her lead the exploded field of 23 candidates.
But let’s not overestimate it. Wright was probably the frontrunner from the start, with strong support among local and state Republicans. Her years of political experience in the district and her status as heir to the late and beloved Congressman were a big plus.
And so it remains for the runoff. Wright will face State Representative Jake Ellzey R-Waxahachie, who narrowly beat the Main Democrat to take second place.
Both are good choices that would represent the district well and give the necessary attention to local issues. Prior to the election, we recommended Ellzey, based on his leadership experience, including his record as a decorated Navy combat pilot.
On the questions, little separates the two. They reflect the odd division of the Sixth Congressional District: a significant portion of Fort Worth, most of Arlington and Mansfield against the more rural and much less populated counties of Ellis and Navarro.
To win the second round, Ellzey will have to do much better in Tarrant County. In the first round, Wright crushed him here, more than doubling his vote tally. And she almost matched him to Ellis and Navarro, with less than 150 votes in what should be her own territory. Wright clearly has the advantage at the moment. Any eligible voter in the district can participate in the second round, and there is still time to register to vote before the election.
Interestingly, the race also pits Trump’s preferred candidate against that of his energy secretary, former Gov. Rick Perry, who has expressed support for Ellzey.
But Trump’s involvement is a huge hurdle for Ellzey. GOP voters have had every chance in this race to send a message that they are ready to move on. They clearly are not.
Indeed, there was even an explicitly anti-Trump Republican in the race, Michael Wood. Some national analysts have greatly overestimated its potential impact, as shown by its paltry 3% of the vote.
As for the Democrats, this race has always been a bad game. The neighborhood is more Republican than Trump’s performance in 2020 suggests; Ron Wright won it by 9 points last year.
But the fact that they could not get a candidate to participate in the second round indicates that the party is no closer to participating in these kinds of races. If anything, it was probably a small step back; Democrat Stephen Daniel comfortably won the Tarrant party last year, but Republicans combined in the special election to win many more votes in Tarrant County than Democrats (albeit with a much higher turnout). low).
The special election could be a launching pad for some candidates, even if they are far behind. Fort Worth Democrat Shawn Lassiter was impressed with strong campaign organization. This propelled her to second among Democrats, behind Jana Lynne Sanchez, who lost a few hundred votes before the second round. Brian Harrison, who finished third among Republicans, will likely be on the ballot again in the future.
Even Wood, over time, can seem far-sighted about the danger for the GOP of being, as he put it on Sunday, “too much personality cult and a vehicle for Donald Trump’s grievances” and “too much out of the box. ‘comfortable with conspiracy theories’.
But today is not his day. If there was any doubt, the election of the sixth district shows that in Texas, it is the Republican Party of Donald Trump.