Politics What the loss by Trump’s favorite in an all-GOP Texas runoff means
Trump backed his opponent. Jake Ellzey is still putting up a fight in an all-GOP Texas runoff
ARLINGTON, Texas — Edie Moore likes former President Donald Trump. She “loves what he did for our country.” And she thinks he is a fighter — a trait she likes in a politician. But she still won’t vote for Susan Wright, the candidate Trump endorsed in the upcoming special election runoff in her congressional district. […] The post Trump backed his opponent. Jake Ellzey is still putting up a fight in an all-GOP Texas runoff appeared first on Roll Call.
Just hours after he beat the candidate backed by Donald Trump in a House special election, Texas Republican Jake Ellzey got a congratulatory call — from the former president.
The call Wednesday morning was “extremely cordial,” said Craig Murphy, Ellzey’s consultant, who said he was not at liberty to share details.
“There was just humor and just really good feeling,” Murphy said. “It wasn’t like a pro forma call he just made because he had to. It was a very warm call.”
Trump super PAC promoting Susan Wright ahead of Texas House runoff
A super PAC aligned with former President Trump dropped $100,000 on an ad campaign boosting Susan Wright in the lead-up to the runoff election in Texas's 6th Congressional District.The super PAC, Make America Great Again Action, spent $5,000 on ad production and another $95,000 to place the television spot, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. The ad campaign was first reported over the weekend by the Dallas Morning News. Wright is facing off against fellow Republican Jake Ellzey in a runoff on Tuesday to represent Texas's 6th District, south of Dallas and Fort Worth. The two candidates are vying to replace Wright's late husband, former Rep.
That call, from a figure known to hold grudges, is a telling indication of how Trump — and therefore how the majority of the Republican establishment — is approachingin the all-GOP runoff in Texas’ 6th District. Wright is the widow of , the most recent occupant of the suburban Dallas-Fort Worth seat, of complications from COVID-19.
Ellzey’s win, by 6 points, was a rare victory for a Republican candidate over a Trump-backed opponent in a race that was expected to hold a clue about how much sway Trump still holds over the GOP electorate. But Republican strategists familiar with the district warned against drawing too many conclusions about the former president’s effect on future contests because of some unique aspects of the race.
‘The gold standard’: Special elections in Texas, Ohio to test power of Trump’s endorsement
Upcoming special elections for the U.S. House in Texas and Ohio will serve as a barometer of just how powerful former President Donald Trump’s endorsement — currently the most coveted in Republican politics — is six months after leaving office. In his ongoing effort to cement his status as the leader of the GOP, Trump has intervened in otherwise under-the-radar intraparty contests set to take place in Texas’ 6th congressional district on Tuesday and Ohio’s 15th congressional district on Aug. 3. By doing so, he has pitted himself against some prominent national and local Republicans who are backing other candidates in the races.
Here are five takeaways:
Winner pro-Trump too
Ellzey, a decorated Navy fighter pilot and state lawmaker,to stress his loyalty to Trump.
His central campaign messages — alarm at the influx of migrants at the southern border and disdain for what he described as the socialist influence on the Democratic Party — hewed closely with the GOP’s main talking points leading up to the 2022 midterms.
Ellzey outraised Wright by more than $1 million and ran a tireless campaign, flying back and forth from the state capital in Austin to appear at district events and meet with voters face-to-face.
An internal poll by his campaign early in the race showed that he was behind, but support grew when voters saw both candidates’ résumés and heard the details of Ellzey’s biography.
“That was what we did in the campaign, was go back to his biography over and over again,” Murphy said.
Susan Wright Loses Texas Election, A Failing Test for Trump
Tuesday's election served as an early gauge of Trump's hold on the GOP and Wright's loss could be an early sign that the former president doesn't have the same hold on the party that he had while in office. State Representative Jake Ellzey led Wright by 2,530 votes with 98 percent of the votes counted when Wright conceded the race, according to the Texas Secretary of State's office.Wright began serving as the representative for Texas' 6th Congressional District after her husband, Representative Ronald Wright, died of COVID-19 in February.
Ellzey’s campaign distributed pictures of him, in and out of uniform, with his smiling children and made every effort to make sure voters knew about his 20-year Navy career, during which he “was deployed nine times, including to Afghanistan and Iraq. He served five combat tours by air and one by ground with Seal Team 5,” reads his biography on his campaign website.
“Everyone has said it’s very difficult to run against a Trump endorsement, and his record of wins is huge. But it’s also really hard to run against a candidate like Jake Ellzey, who has that background and that air of confidence and competence and star quality,” Murphy said.
Ellzey had sought the seat before, losing the 2018 GOP primary to. Susan Wright was considered an early favorite, and she had the support of dozens of House Republicans. showed her with a strong lead. And Ellzey, who launched his campaign just months after winning a seat in the Texas state House, ran the risk of looking too ambitious.
“It was hers to lose at the beginning,” said Brian Mayes, a Republican consultant who briefly worked for Ellzey’s 2018 campaign before leaving to work for. “[Ellzey’s] campaign team just overwhelmed Susan. His strategy was spot on.”
Texas voting standoff jeopardizes pay for up to 2K workers
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Donovon Rodriguez pursued a career with the state of Texas seven years ago because he viewed the work as public service and a steady income to provide for his family. But lately, his government job hasn't looked so stable. Rodriguez, the chief of staff for a Democratic state representative, is one of close to 2,000 legislative workers who risk going unpaid after Republican Gov. Greg Abbott slashed their salaries from the state budget as punishment after Democratic lawmakers walked out in May to block restrictions on voting. Paychecks could be restored during an ongoing special legislative session.
Wright, meanwhile, was largely absent from the campaign trail, giving the impression that she was relying on her endorsement from Trump and her name recognition to win. Not only did she avoid the general media (including CQ Roll Call), she also declined requests from local Republican groups andsuch as Newsmax.
“The management and style of the two campaigns couldn’t have been more different, with Wright’s falling short,” said Nick Maddux, vice president of Axiom Strategies, a GOP consulting firm. “His campaign flat-out had more energy and hustle. If it hadn’t been for President Trump’s support and other outside groups propping up Wright’s lackluster campaign, she would have lost by an even greater margin.”
Attacks can backfire
Wright’s campaign was largely backed by more than $1 million in spending from the Club for Growth.
The anti-tax group attacked Ellzey in a television ad and mailers for ignoring his state legislative duties while he campaigned and forfrom Trump critic Bill Kristol when he first ran for the seat in 2018.
Ellzey was also in the difficult position of responding to an opponent who was still grieving. His campaign left that task to his supporters, including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who served as Energy secretary under Trump, and Texas Rep., who like Ellzey is a combat veteran. “They’re lying to you,” Crenshaw was quoted as saying in one mailer. “I hate dishonest campaigns.”
‘Not a foregone conclusion:’ Republicans confront limits of Trump’s endorsement
WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s highly sought-after endorsement has not provided quite the boost some Republicans expected so far this year. Republican candidates backed by Trump are locked in crowded primary races against undeterred opponents. Some are raising less money than their competitors. And just this week one lost an intraparty battle in Texas. Trump has retained a firm Republican candidates backed by Trump are locked in crowded primary races against undeterred opponents. Some are raising less money than their competitors. And just this week one lost an intraparty battle in Texas.
The club’s heavy involvement in the contest allowed Trump advisers tofor misreading the race, rather than seeing the outcome as a failure of Trump’s own judgment, Axios reported Wednesday. Trump himself blamed the loss on Democratic voters — it was a runoff, not a primary, so Democrats could vote, even though only Republicans were on the ballot — and praised both Ellzey and Wright as “two very good people,” the outlet reported.
Not solid Trump country
With Trump carrying the 6th District by 3 points in November — down from 12 points in 2016 — some local Democrats initially saw the open seat as a pickup opportunity. But the Democratic candidates in the May 1 all-party first round of the special election combined for just 29,000 of the 78,000 votes cast, with the top Democratic vote-getter coming within about 350 votes of knocking Ellzey out of the runoff.
The partisan breakdown of the voters in the runoff won’t be available for months, but there is a possibility that some Democrats cast protest votes against Wright because of Trump’s endorsement. One indication is Ellzey’s strong performance in the populous Tarrant County, home to Arlington, where Democratic voters in the district are concentrated.
Ellzey lost Tarrant County by some 3,900 votes in his 2018 primary runoff against. He won the county by 1,350 votes Tuesday, going from a 36-point loss to a 6-point win.
Turnout was higher than some analysts had predicted for an off-cycle election in the middle of a heat wave, a possible indication that voters remain engaged after coming out in record numbers in November. But even with almost 14,700 more people voting in Tuesday’s election than the 2018 GOP runoff, turnout still totaled less than 40,000. In the May first round, when there were 23 candidates running, more than 78,000 voters cast ballots. In last fall’s general election, nearly 340,000 voted.
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House GOP's new midterm headache: Candidates tied to the Capitol riot .
Several Republican candidates were in the vicinity of the Jan. 6 attack, raising uncomfortable questions for the party's House campaign arm.House Republican leaders have forcefully condemned the violent Capitol riot by Donald Trump's supporters. But the GOP campaign arm is now in the uncomfortable position of watching several of its own candidates face sharp questions about their role in the deadly siege that injured scores of police officers.