TX-06/IL-16: Mild Upset as Jake Ellzey Wins Special Election Runoff

J.K. “Jake” Ellzey
Susan Wright

While false narratives will cast the defeat of Trump-backed Wright as a rejection of Trump, reality will show simpler reasons for Susan Wright’s loss

Yesterday, the special election runoff election for the vacant TX-06 congressional seat took place.

By 9:45PM CDT last night, the AP had called the race, with state Representative Jake Ellzey (R, Waxahachie) winning the special election over the heavily endorsed Susan Wright, widow of former Congressman Ron Wright who passed away due to complications from COVID and cancer in February of this year.

The initial special election vote took place back on May 1st, with nearly 2 dozen candidates, resulting in two Republicans facing off yesterday since no candidate achieved 50% + 1 majority on May 1st. The special election was a “blanket primary” with all candidates on the ballot under the party label of their choosing. On May 1st, the Democrats were shut out by TX-06 special election voters.

Unlike a Republican primary runoff in Texas where Democrats who cast ballots in initial vote cannot cross party lines and vote in a Republican primary runoff, a special election runoff is open to all voters to participate.

Given less than 9% voter turnout in yesterday’s vote (including early voting), very few voters participated.

Because Wright was endorsed by former President Trump back in late April for this seat, a false narrative was expected to emerge: Wright’s loss to Ellzey, a 1st term state representative who lost the primary runoff to the late Ron Wright in 2018 for the open seat, is a repudiation of Trump.

Indeed, Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R, IL-16) retweeted the following tweet last night as Ellzey’s win was called from CNN reporter Manu Raju:

Let’s recall, Kinzinger had backed a candidate who lost badly in the initial vote as told on McHenry County Blog back in May. Kinzinger stayed out of the Ellzey-Wright runoff election (guess Air Force veterans don’t back Navy veterans?).

So while Kinzinger retweeting the CNN Raju tweet as CNN called the race for Ellzey (within minutes of AP’s official call) can come across as giddiness on his part after his disgusting display at the Special Committee hearing yesterday morning (more on that in a separate article), there are more simple explanations why Ellzey won.

From the desk of John Lopez: The aforementioned low turnout definitely a reason for Wright’s defeat. While the initial voter turnout on May 1st (which was combined with local municipal and school board elections on the ballot that same day) was less than 20%, with any runoff election, it is expected to have fewer voters runout, especially for a runoff nearly 3-months after the initial voting.

Worth noting, Texas law requires a congressional special election runoff to take place over 70 days after the initial election certification, whereas municipal runoffs from May 1st were decided on June 5th.

Quite simply, TX-06 voters didn’t see another reason to go out to vote again as they had done on May 1st and June 5th. One might call expecting some district voters who had to decide various mayoral and/or city council runoffs on June 5th to turn out 3 times within 3 months “voter fatigue”.

In my honest opinion, Wright’s defeat might also be the ending of “widow’s succession”. This happened in 2020 after the passing of Congressman Elijah Cummings (D, MD-07). Cummings’ widow ran in the Democratic primary for MD-07 special election, and lost to former Congressman Kwaisi Mfume, who went on and won election in the special and reelection in the general last year.

So in the 2020s, widow’s succession not playing the part it once did in the early years of the 21st century.

By all accounts from the ground, Ellzey’s campaign, with the support of former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Dan Crenshaw (R, TX-02), Ellzey overcame the establishment support of Trump as well as the Club for Growth Action super PAC (who spent $1.2 million in the runoff). Ellzey appealed to non-Republican voters and pointed out and asked, in effective text message marketing “Do you want Donald Trump deciding who represents you in Congress?”

Whatever Ellzey did it worked, and he should be congratulated for his impressive win, the mild upset it is.

One of my own pet peeves about the establishment flocking to Wright very early in the special election campaign, was how Wright’s election made the appearance of a “coronation”. Personally, I don’t like coronations and if I were voting in the special election, in spite of my respect for Trump and the Club for Growth, I likely would have voted for Ellzey, too. His experience as a state legislator would have tipped my hand, especially since Ellzey had finished his first regular, biennial session of the Texas Legislature at the end of May.

Then there was the special session this month with the Texas House Democrats leaving the state to D.C. but that is another article, too.

Given the U.S. House will be entering the August recess at the end of the week before the special runoff election can be certified, look for Ellzey to be sworn-in when the House returns to D.C. after Labor Day.

Maybe our Dallas-Fort Worth-based commenter D J can give us his insight, particularly on the TV commercials he would have seen on local TV for the runoff.


TX-06/IL-16: Mild Upset as Jake Ellzey Wins Special Election Runoff — 5 Comments

  1. My lake house (Richland-Chambers) is in the Tx-06 but I vote as you know in Dallas Tx-24.

    This was so under the radar I forgot about the runoff but there were zero mailings, no yard signs etc for the runoff at the Tx-06 address.

    Though, remarkably Trump signs are still in yards everywhere, along I-45 and Hwy 287 my route to the lake.

  2. Kinzinger retweeted that? Wow. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised though. This is such a weird, vindictive flex. You can tell Kinzinger is preoccupied with Trump. This is what I don’t like about Kinzinger. He’s not someone who just disagrees with Trump on issue x, y, z. That’s fine. He clearly hates Trump and relishes in anything bad for Trump. He’s more obsessed with hating Trump than a lot of Democrats I know in real life.

    The tweet shows he not only has contempt for Trump but that he wants to make fun of Trump’s voters too. He wants to rub it in, throw salt on the wounds so to speak. Amplify any sort of loss. Not long ago he was fighting with people who didn’t want to wear masks or get vaccinated. He has made disparaging remarks about Evangelicals. Everything he says makes sense if you look at it through a friend-enemy lens. He has identified certain enemies. Kinzinger seems quite vengeful — a lot like Trump! Kinzinger complains about Trump’s style of uncouth politics (a fair criticism), but Kinzinger kind of acts like a baby himself. Also, Kinzinger loves attention from the media — a lot like Trump!

    (I always thought Joe Walsh did not like Trump because Trump outstaged him — Trump acted like an even bigger doofus than Walsh but was far more entertaining and well liked. I thought it was projection and jealousy. Walsh hated Trump because he is similar to Trump, but there’s a jealousy factor because Trump is more popular. Both are loud, unsophisticated, vulgar, blowhard type of guys — Trump just did it with far more success than Walsh.)

    Kinzinger is certainly trying a bold strategy if he seeks election: Winning a GOP primary without most GOP voters! I guess his coalition would be Dem crossover votes and anti-Trump Republicans? Kind of a risky strategy for a partisan primary, but suppose if there are so many Republicans running and he has millions of dollars he could pull it off.

    Regarding the Texas election, do you think it’s possible Democrats put Ellzey over the top out of spite for Trump? It wasn’t just Republicans voting, is that correct? Maybe you could look for exit polls and check out the crosstabs. The coronation thing you mentioned makes sense too. There were at least 5 House members who endorsed Wright plus senators Cruz and Blackburn. She definitely had more endorsements from high profile people. Then you have Club for Growth who a lot of people, including Republicans, don’t really like. (Remember when they hated Trump?) Oh, and you forgot Elise Stefanik and her PAC. I’m surprised because you mention Stefanik often. She supported Wright, but the voters said she was wrong! (word joke)

    Interesting commentary about the widow candidates. Didn’t even know that about Cummings’ wife running.

    Big win for Crenshaw who has sort of been on the ropes lately. I see Kinzinger and Crenshaw as pretty similar and I’m not a big fan of either of them, but one of the major differences is that Crenshaw doesn’t do the kind of in your face anti-Trump stuff that Kinzinger does. Crenshaw made his endorsement prior to the race, talked about Jake’s military experience, said Wright’s campaign was peddling falsehoods. That’s all fine and dandy. Quite different than Kinzinger who just comes out after the election to “na na na boo boo your guy lost” post. Never thought I’d be comparing Dan Crenshaw to someone and saying Crenshaw is better than them, but here we are. Thanks a lot, KinSTINKER!!! Heck, I’d even vote for Lauf before Kinzinger, and you know I’m not a big Lauf stan.

  3. Kinzinger is a homosexual. I’d like to see him deny it publicly.

  4. TheTerminator, Well, Kinzinger recently announced him and his she-wife, Ms. Sofia, are expecting their baby come January.

  5. Lopez, are you a feather Head?

    Jim Thompson, the East Bank Club streamroom predator got married too. So what?

    Dennis Hastert was married, too.

    So is ‘justice’ Roberts.

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