A Look at the Texas Special Election

On May 1, 2021, in a jungle primary, the citizens of Texas’s 6th Congressional District will vote on who they want as their new Representative. Representative Ron Wright’s death from COVID-19 on February 7th, shortly after being sworn in for his 2nd term, has led Governor Abbot to schedule a Special Election to fill the vacant seat. 

The district includes all of rural Ellis and Navarro counties, as well as suburban areas in southeastern Tarrant county. The district has followed the general leftward trend of the suburbs in recent years, going from Romney winning it by 17% in 2012 to Trump carrying it by only 3% in 2020.

The Texas 6th race has over 20 candidates who will appear on the ballot, all hoping to represent the district in Congress. 

The current favorite is Susan Wright, the late Congressman’s widow. She has already collected a swath of endorsements from numerous figures, including Congressman Chip Roy, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, and State Representative Matt Krause. The other major Republican candidates include:

Jake Ellzey, a member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 10th district and runner-up to Wright in the 2018 Texas 6th primary. 

Brian Harrison, the former chief of staff of the Department of Health and Human Services under Trump.

Serry Kim, a former official in the SBA under Trump and the HHS under Bush.

Dan Rodimer, a former WWE professional wrestler and nominee for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district in 2020.

On the Democrat side, the frontrunner is Jana Sanchez, a journalist, activist, and nominee for Texas’s 6th district in 2018 who lost to Ron Wright in the general election. The other major Democratic candidates are:

Lydia Bean, a small business owner and former state house candidate

Shawn Lassiter, the Leadership ISD Chief of Equity and Inclusion

Similar to how the 2017 Special Election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district was for Trump, this will be the first competitive congressional race since President Biden has taken office, and will not only be an indicator of his performance so far, but a bellwether on if Republicans can rebound in the suburbs now that former President Trump is out of office. 

In the 2017 Georgia 6th Special Election, Republican Karen Handel was able to beat the eventual 2020 senatorial race winner, Jon Ossof, 51.78% to Ossoff’s 48.22%. Trump had won the district by two points in 2016, but Republicans would go on to lose the district in 2018, as Democrat Lucy McBath would eke out a slim one-point victory. The district would zoom to the Left in 2020, as Trump lost it by 11 points, losing the state of Georgia as well, thanks to his losses in support amongst the Atlanta suburbs. 

While the district has not swung as much as Georgia 8th has over the previous election cycles, it still has been trending leftward. Despite this, however, the underlying demographics of the district still give Republicans an edge and are favored to hold onto it, even if the margins are as close as they were in 2020. 

Aside from the candidates who are running, the most important aspect of this race may be the suburban areas and how they view the agenda that the Biden Administration and the Democrat Congress have been pushing in their first four months in power. College-educated whites in the suburbs and urban areas were the key demographic that jumped leftward since 2016 and helped deliver Biden his victory. They helped him win in Arizona, Georgia, and the Rust Belt.  If they indicate a reversal now that Trump is no longer in office, it may not bode well for Biden in the midterms or beyond.