Ellzey wins U.S. House runoff; Wray seeks return to Austin
Voters reject Trump endorsement of opponent; former state rep announces candidacy for old job
A political earthquake with only a three-county coverage area — but with shockwaves that undoubtedly were felt at a mansion in South Florida — was registered Tuesday night in North Texas.
In a stinging rejection of former president Donald Trump’s endorsement of Susan Wright and a number of well-established conservative groups, the voters of Texas U.S. House District 6 chose Ellis County resident and Texas House Rep. Jake Ellzey as their next representative in Congress.
As expected, Ellzey won his home county with a sizable majority, 6,784 votes to 5,185 for Wright, the widow of former Rep. Ron Wright. But Ellzey’s surprising strength in Wright’s home base of heavily-populated Tarrant County easily swept the retired Navy commander and combat fighter pilot to Washington. Out of almost 24,000 total votes cast, Ellzey finished with an advantage of more than 1,300 votes over local favorite Wright in the cities of Arlington and Mansfield.
On Tuesday night, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott congratulated Ellzey on his victory.
“Jake will be a strong and effective leader for the people of North Texas and he will fight tirelessly for their values in Washington,” Abbott said in a written statement.
Also providing congratulations was Ryan Pitts, Ellzey's Republican primary opponent for the Texas House seat in March 2020.
“The voters in Texas’ 6th Congressional District have placed their faith in Jake to continue serving our district with conservative values and principles," Pitts told the Daily Light late Tuesday night. "Jake served House District 10 well in Austin and I know he will continue to serve the interest of his constituents in Washington D.C. We must all rally behind our new congressman with prayer and accountability to ensure our voices —and not those from the left —are being heard loud and clear in D.C.
"We should all also congratulate Susan Wright on a well run campaign. I’m confident that Susan will continue serving our communities and the Republican Party."
The knock-on result from Tuesday's vote is a vacancy in Texas House District 10 that must eventually be filled. With the 2021 regular session over and a safe Republican seat in hand, it's unclear whether Abbott will be moved to call a special election with another primary looming in about seven months. Redistricting as a result of the 2020 U.S. Census is also pending.
But it didn’t take long for a familiar face to announce his intent to recapture his old seat. Former District 10 Rep. John Wray, whom Ellzey replaced just this past January, threw his hat in the ring on Thursday for a bid to return to Austin.
“I took time off to spend more time with my family and our Ellis County community, but with Jake heading to Congress, I can’t stay on the sidelines,” Wray said on social media in announcing his candidacy. “We need a strong, experienced legislator who knows what they are doing and can hit the ground running.”
District 10, as presently constituted, consists of all of Ellis County and part of Henderson County, but the makeup of the district will almost certainly change in redistricting.
Ellzey and Wright — both Republicans — were vying for the seat that was vacated by Ron Wright’s death on Feb. 7 from complications of COVID-19 and stage-4 lung cancer.
Denied the funding pipeline from deep-pocketed GOP sources, Ellzey rode the generosity of small donors to victory. Ellzey announced in early July that he had raised more than $1.7 million in contributions from conservative donors across Texas and the nation, with average contributions of less than $35.
Ellzey won the Texas House District 10 seat last November and recently completed his first legislative session in Austin. The Texas House’s current special session called by Gov. Abbott in early July is on hold because of lack of a quorum.
Meanwhile, Susan Wright received a reiteration of a previous endorsement from former President Trump. The conservative Club for Growth, a super PAC, spent more than $500,000 supporting Wright and opposing Ellzey, and the super PAC spent $230,000 on TV ads for Wright, Politico reported.
However, Ellzey lined up a number of endorsements of his own, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Congressman Joe Barton of Ennis, who represented District 6 for 34 years. Barton hosted Ellzey’s election watch party in Ennis Tuesday night.
Wright placed first in the May 1 special election among a field of 23 candidates from all parties, receiving about 19 percent of votes. Ellzey, who carried Ellis County on May 1, edged out Democrat Jana Sanchez with 14 percent of the balloting to finish second and make it an all-GOP runoff.