Republican Susan Wright will advance to a runoff election for her deceased husband’s North Texas congressional seat, NBC News projected Saturday.
Wright, a longtime activist in local GOP politics and the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas., emerged from the 23-person field as the one of the top two candidates vying to represent Texas’ 6th Congressional District as she won more than 19 percent of the vote. She was first to advance to the runoff, NBC News projected.
NBC News has not yet projected who Wright will face in the runoff, though the third place candidate and leading Democrat conceded on Sunday morning.
A runoff will take place because none of the candidates will met the 50 percent threshold required to win outright. As of Sunday afternoon, Ellzey held a slim lead over Jana Lynne Sanchez, a Democratic candidate who unsuccessfully sought the seat in 2018.
“Democrats have a come a long way toward competing in Texas but we still have a way to go,” Sanchez said in a statement. Unfortunately … we came up short, and two Republicans will be competing to represent this congressional district.”
The total vote split with more than 60 percent going to GOP candidates and less than 40 percent to Democrats.
The district, which encompasses a suburban swath of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, has been represented by a Republican for more than 30 years and Ron Wright won his election last fall by about 9 points. There were concerns going in that a Democratic candidate could get locked out of a potential runoff, leaving two Republicans to compete head-to-head. Yet the district itself is trending leftward. As the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, Mitt Romney won the district by 17 points, while former President Donald Trump won it last fall by just 3.
This special election came about following Ron Wright’s death after contracting Covid-19. Former President Donald Trump, just days before the election, endorsed his widow, though there were several Republicans eagerly vying for his support. After her advance to the runoff, Trump said in a Sunday statement: “Congratulations to Susan Wright on her great surge yesterday which made her NUMBER ONE and assures her participation in the TX-06 runoff against another Republican.”
Susan Wright was long considered the front-runner. Other Republicans include three former Trump administration officials — Brian Harrison, Sery Kim and Michael Egan — plus Ellzey, Michael Wood, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and anti-Trump Republican who earned the backing of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who ran in a Nevada congressional race last year.
Late this week, the contest was roiled by a robocall that went out in the district that accuses Wright of having caused her husband’s death.
The call, a recording of which was obtained by NBC News, was first reported by Politico. “This is illegal, immoral, and wrong. There’s not a sewer too deep that some politicians won’t plumb,” Wright said in a statement to Politico. The Wright campaign referred the call to local and federal law enforcement, and its origins are still unclear.
On the Democratic side, Sanchez was considered the party’s front-runner. Other contenders included Lydia Bean, a former state House candidate, and Shawn Lassiter, a nonprofit leader and educator.