Texas special election: Republican Susan Wright advances to runoff in race for U.S. House seat, NBC News projects

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Republican Susan Wright will advance to a runoff election for her deceased husband’s North Texas congressional seat, NBC News projected Saturday.

Wright, the widow of Rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, and a longtime activist in local GOP politics, emerged from a 23-person field as one of the top two candidates vying to represent Texas’ 6th Congressional District.

NBC News has not yet projected who Wright will face in the runoff, which will take place because none of the candidates will met the 50 percent threshold required to win outright.

Wright, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, had won just over 19 percent of the vote as of very early Sunday morning. Her husband, the late congressman, died earlier this year after contracting Covid-19.

The race is the first hotly-contested special election of President Joe Biden’s term, featuring a jungle primary packed with 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats and two others.

Second place is coming down to a battle between state Rep. Jake Ellzey, a Republican, and Jana Lynne Sanchez, a Democrat who sought the seat in 2018. With Ellzey holding a narrow lead over Sanchez as of midnight Sunday, it’s possible Democrats could get shut out of the runoff.

Get live updating race results from NBC News

The total vote split with roughly 60 percent going to GOP candidates and 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.

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.

Adam Kinzinger,Michael Wood (LM Otero / AP)
Adam Kinzinger,Michael Wood (LM Otero / AP)
Trump made a late-stage endorsement of Wright in the race, though there were several Republicans eagerly vying for his support. 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.

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