Nearly two dozen candidates are on the ballot Saturday in the race to fill a vacant House seat in Northern Texas in a district that’s long been held by Republicans but has become increasingly competitive in recent years.
The race to succeed the late Rep. Ron Wright, who died of COVID-19 complications in February, is likely the only congressional special election to date this year with a chance of flipping party control.
Texas’ Sixth Congressional District -- which covers some southeastern parts of the city of Fort Worth and surrounding suburbs, as well as the exurbs and rural areas south of Dallas -- was once a safely red district. Longtime GOP Rep. Joe Barton represented the district for nearly 35 years. Wright succeeded Barton in 2018 and was reelected in November, but won both times by single digits. At the time, then-President Trump carried the district by just three points over Joe Biden.
Of the 11 Republican candidates in the race, a top contender appears to be Wright’s widow, Susan Wright, who’s been endorsed by a healthy list of Texas Republicans and has won the backing of the anti-tax Club for Growth, which has spent six figures to support her bid. This past week, she also landed the endorsement of Trump, who spoke on her behalf and took aim at Biden during Wright’s tele-town hall Thursday night.
"It's just my honor to also get involved and be involved in this race," Trump said at the event.
Two other leading Republican contenders are state Rep. Jake Ellzey, a Navy combat pilot veteran, who enjoys the backing of former longtime GOP Gov. Rick Perry, and Brian Harrison, who was chief of staff to Trump-era Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Other Republicans of note on the ballot include Sery Kim, a Small Business Administration (SBA) official in the Trump administration; Marine combat veteran Michael Wood, who’s running as an anti-Trump candidate and is endorsed by Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; and former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer, who was a 2020 congressional candidate in Nevada.
A leading contender among the 10 Democrats in the race is Jana Lynne Sanchez, who lost to Ron Wright by single digits in the 2018 open-seat election. There’s also one independent and one Libertarian candidate on the ballot.
Unless one candidate wins a majority in Saturday’s election -- which is unlikely -- there will be a runoff of the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation.