Tag Archives: Susan Wright

A Special Election Look-In

By Jim Ellis

May 26, 2021 — The Albuquerque, New Mexico vacant US House seat will be filled on June 1, and a new RRH Elections survey finds the Democratic nominee holding a strong advantage. In Texas, There is no mystery as to which party will win the July 27 special runoff election in North Texas to replace the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), but which Republican claims the vacant seat is certainly getting more interesting. We take a look at both races.

NM-1

The RRH Elections poll (May 18-21; 555 NM-1 special election voters and those intending to vote, interactive voice response system and online), finds state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) leading state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque), 49-33 percent.

The numbers make sense when overlaying the 1st District voting history. Former Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) naturally resigned the seat after being nominated and confirmed as US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration weeks after winning re-election to a second term. Her victory percentage was 58, after claiming her first term in 2018 with a 59-36 percent margin.

At one time during the century, the 1st was politically competitive – former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque) held the seat for five terms, ending when she ran unsuccessfully for the US Senate in 2008, for example – but a weakened New Mexico Republican Party and a stronger Democratic composition from redistricting has taken the seat off the board.

President Biden carried the district over former President Trump, 60-37 percent, after Hillary Clinton won here in 2016 with a lower but still comparatively strong 52-35 percent spread. Testing President Biden’s current job approval rating, RRH finds him recording a 57:39 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio, which is similar to his 2020 vote performance. This consistency gives the RHH polling data further credibility.

In terms of finances, Stansbury had raised $1.2 million through the May 12 pre-primary reporting period, with $525,000 cash-on-hand as of that date. Sen. Moores, by contrast, had obtained $595,000 with $125,000 in the bank. His receipts total includes a $200,000 personal loan.

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TX-6: Analyzing a Mild Upset

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2021 — With many observers in and out of Texas conceding that Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez had a chance to finish first in Saturday’s special jungle primary to begin the process of replacing the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), it came as at least a mild surprise to see her failing to even qualify for the secondary election. The final result yielded two Republicans advancing from the huge field of 23 candidates.

Finishing first was Susan Wright (R), the late congressman’s widow, which was not a particularly surprising result as virtually every analyst and available polling data conceded her one of the two runoff positions.

The race got particularly nasty, however, towards the end. An anonymous robocall – one without a legal disclaimer – flooded the district a day before the election claiming Ms. Wright murdered her husband to redeem a $1 million insurance policy. The call text said she deliberately contracted COVID in order to intentionally infect her husband. Rep. Wright died in early February after a long battle with cancer and COVID. Ms. Wright’s attorneys have referred the matter to the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Tarrant County District Attorney.

Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) edged Sanchez for second place; Ellzey ran against Ron Wright when the congressional seat was last open in 2018 and forced him into a runoff.

For more than a generation, the 6th District was a Republican bastion. Rep. Joe Barton (R), Rep. Wright’s predecessor and former boss when the latter man served as a congressional district office director, held four variations of the 6th over a long 34-year congressional career. The electorate began to turn when Rep. Wright won two underwhelming victories and Democrats significantly closed the partisan gap at the presidential level (’20, Trump 51-48 percent; ’16, Trump 54-42 percent).

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TX-6: Double R Runoff

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright

May 4, 2021 — Republicans are guaranteed to hold Texas’ vacant 6th Congressional District in the succeeding runoff election as two GOP candidates advanced from the 23-person jungle primary election on Saturday night. Susan Wright, widow of late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington), finished first, as expected, with just over 19 percent of the vote.

Accompanying Wright into the runoff contest is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He scored a vote percentage of 13.9 in slipping past the top Democrat, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez, who finished just 354 votes behind in third place.

Ellzey was elected to the legislature in November, but immediately jumped into the congressional race when Rep. Wright passed away. In 2018, Ellzey ran for the 6th District open seat when veteran Rep. Joe Barton (R) retired, finishing second and forcing Rep. Wright, then the Tarrant County Tax Assessor, into a runoff election. Rep. Wright won the runoff 52-48 percent, which was a much closer finish than initially anticipated.

The Saturday night primary proved big for Republicans. Combined, their candidates received 61.9 percent of the 78,374 votes cast according to the initial final count. Democrats finished well below expectations with only a combined 37.3 percent split among their 10 candidates.

These totals are quite different than Rep. Wright’s victory margins in both 2020 and 2018, when he recorded almost identical splits of 53-44 percent and 53-45 percent, respectively. Former President Donald Trump carried the district with a 51-48 percent spread in November but a much stronger 54-42 percent in 2016.

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TX-6 Primary Saturday

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2021 — The special jungle primary to begin the process of replacing the late Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) began Saturday as 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, a Libertarian, and an Independent scratched and clawed to obtain one of the two available runoff positions.

With 23 candidates on the ballot and nobody even reaching 30 percent in published polling, there was virtually no chance any of these contenders win outright with a majority vote. Therefore, a secondary election between the top two finishers will be called as soon as the vote totals are made official. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) then will schedule the special runoff election for what appears to be a period in late June.

The candidate attracting the most attention is the late congressman’s wife, Susan Wright (R). She scored a major endorsement last week as former President Donald Trump announced his support for her candidacy. The Trump move was a major blow to candidate Brian Harrison (R), who is a former official in the Trump Administration’s Health and Human Services Department and an ex-White House aide to then-President George W. Bush.

Wright garnered 19.2 percent of the vote Saturday, which was enough to give her a first-place finish.

Aside from Wright and Harrison, who finished a distant fourth with 10.8 percent of the vote, the other significant Republican candidate is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He ran for the congressional seat in 2018 when Rep. Wright was first elected, forcing him into a runoff and losing just 52-48 percent to the eventual general election winner.

Just as he did then, Ellzey finished second, with 13.8 percent of the vote. Wright and Ellzey both will advance to the runoff, likely in late June.

Recently, both the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have come out opposing Ellzey’s candidacy, with the former launching an opposition independent expenditure.

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One Down, 4 Special Elections to Go

By Jim Ellis

March 26, 2021 — Though Rep-Elect Julia Letlow’s (R) victory in Louisiana last Saturday completed one special congressional election, four others are still in-cycle and fresh ballot test data was just released from the Texas seat.

Next up on the schedule is the LA-2 double-Democratic runoff between state Sens. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) and Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) on April 24. Next, on May 1, voters in Texas’ 6th District will go to the polls to begin the replacement process for the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington). Replacing Biden cabinet members and ex-Reps. Deb Haaland and Marcia Fudge will occur on June 1 and Nov. 2, respectively, in New Mexico and Ohio.

As in Louisiana, the Texas race features the late incumbent’s widow running, but a new poll suggests that Susan Wright’s support is not as deep as Letlow’s in neighboring Louisiana. On Saturday, Letlow, whose late husband, Luke Letlow, passed away three weeks after he won the December 2020 runoff election, scored a landslide 65 percent outright victory over 11 opponents.

In the North Texas race, the Democratic firm Global Strategy Group recently surveyed the 6th District electorate for their client, candidate Lydia Bean (D), during the March 11-16 period and interviewed 500 likely special election voters.

While the results found Wright leading the pack of 23 candidates, she reached only 18 percent support but that was nine percentage points better than her closest opponent, 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez.

Freshman state representative and 2018 Republican congressional candidate, Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), the only sitting elected official in the massive candidate field, followed closely behind with eight percent support. Bean, a non-profit organization founder, and former George W. Bush White House aide Brian Harrison were next, posting six percent apiece.

The results suggest that Wright has a clear lead, her advantage is by no means insurmountable and, at this point in the special election cycle, the data is certainly pointing to a pair of candidates advancing into a runoff election.

Under Texas special election procedure, the governor does not schedule the secondary election until it is clear that the runoff is necessary, and the participants chosen. In this case, we won’t know the date of the next election after May 1. It is presumed, however, that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the runoff in mid to late July.

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