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).