As early voting started Monday in a special election to fill the open Texas House District 10 seat, competition tightened between the two Republicans seen as top contenders.

Among the eight candidates on the ballot, Republicans Brian Harrison and John Wray are the two with the most traction going into the expedited election to replace former State Rep. Jake Ellzey (R–Waxahachie), who was elected to Congress late last month.

A third GOP candidate, Susan Hayslip, originally filed to run against “establishment career politician” Wray, a three-term former state representative who held the HD 10 seat just prior to Ellzey.

But on Monday Hayslip withdrew from the race and endorsed Harrison, calling him “the faithful conservative voice that we can all trust and the right choice for District 10.”

Harrison is a small businessman and former chief of staff to the Health and Human Services Secretary in the Trump administration. He competed with Ellzey in the May special election for Congressional District 6, finishing fourth.

Wray, a Waxahachie attorney, decided not to seek a fourth House term in 2020, saying “elected jobs are not meant to be lifetime positions.”

“It appears that for some unknown reason, Wray has changed his mind,” Hayslip said, adding she is “sick and tired of government working against its citizens, politics as usual, career politicians and corruption.”

She also dinged a campaign mailer for Wray sent by Texas Alliance for Life (who endorsed Wray) complaining that “multiple candidates create confusion.”

“Excuse me Mr. Wray but could it possibly be the other candidates, like me, thought the citizens of District 10 deserved another alternative than just a career politician?” she asked.

Wray also picked up Ellzey’s endorsement, while Harrison is endorsed by local Republican officials and grassroots activists as well as Texas Right to Life.

The special election is a “jungle primary” in which candidates from all parties compete. If no candidate receives over 50 percent of the vote, then the top two candidates—regardless of party affiliation—will advance to a runoff.

One of the Republicans is expected to win the district, which includes all of Ellis County and the northwest portion of Henderson County. But in a runoff between two Republicans, local Democrats could impact the results by uniting behind one of the GOP candidates as they did in Ellzey’s congressional runoff.

Other Republicans in the race include Kevin Griffin, a Midlothian rancher and businessman, and Clark Wickliffe, a real estate agent and Midlothian City Council member.

Also on the ballot are Democrat Pierina Otiniano, an Ennis immigration attorney; Matt Savino, a Libertarian from Seven Point who ran against Ellzey for the HD 10 seat in November 2020; and political newcomer Scott Goodwin, an Independent who recently moved to Waxahachie.

Gov. Greg Abbott called an “expedited” election because the vacancy occurred within 60 days of a legislative session.

The winner will serve out Ellzey’s unexpired term, which runs through January 2023.

Early voting runs August 23-27. Election Day is Tuesday, August 31.

Check the Ellis County Elections or Henderson County Elections website for voting information.