Rep. Ellzey to run for House seat

Special election set for May 1; widow of Rep. Ron Wright joins race

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Jake Ellzey
Susan Wright

What has promised to be a heated race for an open U.S. House seat grew even hotter last week with the entrance of both the local Texas House representative and the widow of the former officeholder.

Entering the race on Friday was Texas House District 10 first-term Rep. Jake Ellzey of Midlothian, who had previously run for the seat in 2018, losing to Ron Wright in a runoff in the Republican primary.

Ellzey, a retired U.S. Navy fighter pilot, current airline pilot and a past Texas Veterans Commissioner, won a state House seat in November and is in Austin representing his district in the current session of the Texas Legislature.

Also throwing her hat in the ring was Susan Wright, the wife of the late Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who made public her candidacy and filed her paperwork with the Federal Election Commission.

"Ron always fought for the people and conservative values of the 6th District," Susan Wright said in a statement. "I'm asking the voters of Ellis, Navarro and Tarrant Counties to help me continue the fight for stronger borders, lower taxes and the precious right to life in Washington."

The Texas Tribune had reported this week that Mrs. Wright was exploring a run for her husband’s seat. The Tribune noted that she is active in GOP politics in her own right, having served as district director for former Texas House District 96 Rep. Bill Zedler and his successor, David Cook. She currently represents Texas Senate District 10 as a member of the Texas Republican Executive Committee.

Ron Wright, who had just been elected to a second term in Congress in November, died Feb. 7 from complications of COVID-19.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday set Saturday, May 1 as the date for the special U.S. House election, which is the same day as the joint municipal and school board elections throughout the state.

By law, the special election will be in a “jungle” format where all candidates from both parties will appear together on the ballot. A runoff election will be held on Saturday, June 5 if needed, and with a large number of hopefuls on the ballot, a runoff appears certain.

As of Monday, other Republican candidates who have either publicly announced their candidacies or filed with the FEC included:

• John Anthony Castro, former U.S. Senate primary candidate in 2020;

• Mike Egan, former U.S. Army Special Forces officer and businessman;

• Brian Harrison, former chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services;

• Seri Kim, former Small Business Administration official;

• Marty Markland, writer and producer;

 • Asa Palagi. former candidate for governor of Washington state in 2020;

• Michael Wood, retired U.S. Marine Corps major, combat veteran with two Purple Hearts, and small business owner.

On the Democratic side, Ellis County native Jana Sanchez of Fort Worth announced her candidacy last week, and last Wednesday she was joined by Lydia Bean of Arlington, a Harvard-educated former college professor.

Sanchez was the 2018 Democratic nominee for the seat that Wright won to replace 17-term incumbent Joe Barton; and Bean was the Democratic nominee for the state House District 93 race in 2020.

Shawn Lassiter, a former candidate for Fort Worth City Council and currently an administrator with Leadership ISD, is another Democrat who has declared her candidacy. Matthew Hinterlong, a developer, has also declared for the race.

However, one widely-rumored potential Democratic candidate — Texas House District 101 Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, the House minority leader — announced last Wednesday he won’t be entering the congressional race.

“Representing our community in Washington is a critically important job, and I am honored that a number of people have encouraged me to run for Congress,” Turner said in a statement. “However, I have concluded that the best way for me to serve Tarrant County is to focus all my time and energy on the huge set of challenges facing our state in the current legislative session. We have a tremendous amount of work to do in Austin over the next few months.”

Waxahachie attorney Stephen Daniel, the 2020 Democratic nominee for the District 6 seat, also announced he won’t be running for the office.

“Many have contacted me recently and encouraged me to try again,” Daniel posted on social media last Tuesday. ”I have discussed this with family, friends and others. After careful consideration, I have made the decision not to run in the upcoming special election.

“Although I am not running, I plan on being actively engaged to support my fellow Democrats in this district and across Texas.”