North Texas temperatures are heating up this summer, but the competition for an open seat in Congress may be cooling down as polling shows one candidate in the July runoff has a 15-point lead.
Republicans Susan Wright and State Rep. Jake Ellzey (Waxahachie) are competing in a special election runoff for the congressional seat left by Wright’s late husband, U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, who passed away in February just weeks into his second term.
Internal polling from Wright’s campaign released earlier this month shows Wright leading Ellzey 49-34 percent, with 11 percent of the likely voters surveyed still undecided.
The winner of the July 27 runoff will represent Texas’ 6th Congressional District—which includes parts of Fort Worth and Arlington in Tarrant County, as well as all of Ellis and Navarro counties—for the remainder of Ron Wright’s unexpired term.
Susan Wright is a longtime Republican activist in Tarrant County. Ellzey is a first-term state representative from Ellis County who finished second to Ron Wright in the 2018 GOP primary for the CD 6 seat.
Republican voters favor Wright 66-27 percent.
Democrats prefer Ellzey 49-18 percent. But Democrats make up a smaller portion of voters in the district and, according to the poll, are much less enthusiastic about voting in a runoff between two Republicans.
Turnout is likely to be low in the mid-summer special runoff.
In the May 1 special election—a jungle primary among 23 candidates from both parties, held on the same day as local elections—voter turnout was 16 percent (78,417 voters).
Wright and Ellzey were the top two finishers in that special election. Wright finished first with 19 percent of the vote, while Ellzey received almost 14 percent, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynn Sanchez by about 350 votes.
Both are continuing to run as conservative Republicans.
Wright racked up the lion’s share of endorsements from conservative grassroots activists and Republican politicians, including former President Donald Trump.
The poll of 400 likely runoff voters who participated in the May election found Trump’s endorsement continues to be an asset to Wright’s campaign, boosting her popularity among pro-Trump voters in the district.
But Trump’s support of Wright may help Ellzey win Democrat votes, which he needs to have a chance at winning the runoff.
Last month, a Democrat blog called Living Blue in Texas said Democrat voters in CD 6 had to “drink the poison” and vote for Ellzey in order to defeat Wright, adding a win for Wright “would be a win for Trump.”
It’s unclear how Ellzey’s record in the Texas Legislature will impact his support in the runoff from voters in either party.
The left-leaning Texas Monthly’s June review of the Best and Worst Legislators of 2021 rated Ellzey as “Furniture,” a category for lawmakers who go largely unnoticed:
After just 45 days as a member of the House, Ellzey, who in campaign ads brands himself as “NOT a politician,” announced he was running for Congress. Thanks for stopping by, Representative!
With the regular state legislative session now over, Ellzey will have more time to campaign for Congress. He may follow the strategy of his colleague, State Sen. Drew Springer (R–Muenster), who actively courted Democrat voters in his special election runoff against conservative firebrand Shelley Luther.
Early voting in the special runoff is July 19-23. Election Day is Tuesday, July 27.