Republican Susan Wright will advance to a run-off election for her late husband’s congressional seat in North Texas, NBC News expected Saturday.
Wright, widow of rep. Ron Wright, R-Texas, and a longtime GOP activist, came from a field of 23 people as one of the top two candidates fighting to represent Texas’ 6. congress district.
NBC News has not yet projected who Wright will face in the runoff, which will take place because none of the candidates will reach the 50 threshold required to win directly.
Wright, who was approved by former President Donald Trump, had won just over 1
The race is the first highly contested special election of President Joe Biden’s election period with a primary jungle filled with 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats and two others.
Second place comes down to a fight between state ropes. Jake Ellzey, a Republican, and Jana Lynne Sanchez, a Democrat who ran for office in 2018. Since Ellzey had a narrow lead over Sanchez from midnight Sunday, it is possible Democrats can get shut out of the runoff.
Get live updated race results from NBC News
The total vote was divided by approx. 60 percent went to GOP candidates and 40 percent to Democrats.
The district, which includes a suburb 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 was concern that a Democratic candidate could be locked out of a potential outflow, leaving two Republicans to compete head-to-head. Still, the district itself pulls to the left. As the 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney won the district by 17 points, while former president Donald Trump won last fall by just 3.
Susan Wright was long considered a frontrunner. 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 the anti-Trump Republican who received backing from the rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. and Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who ran in a Nevada congressional race last year.
Trump approved Wright over the course of the race, though there were several Republicans eagerly vying for his support. At the end of this week, the competition was sparked by a robocall that went out into the district, accusing Wright of causing 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 is no sewer too deep for some politicians not to solder,” Wright said in a statement to Politico. The Wright campaign referred the call to local and federal law enforcement, and its origins remain unclear.
On the democratic side, Sanchez was considered the party’s frontrunner. Other attendees included Lydia Bean, a former state candidate, and Shawn Lassiter, a nonprofit leader and teacher.