By Gregory Krieg, Ethan Cohen and Sabrina Souza, CNN
Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey will win the special election runoff in Texas’ 6th Congressional District, CNN projects — without the endorsement of Donald Trump.
The Republican overcame the former President’s backing of his opponent, Republican Susan Wright, to claim victory. Wright is the widow of the late Rep. Ron Wright, who had cancer and died in February after contracting Covid-19.
Trump endorsed Susan Wright shortly before the first round of voting, which ended with none of the 23 candidates securing a winning majority, then doubled down ahead of her one-on-one race with Ellzey. He recorded a robocall for Wright in the final days of the campaign and his super PAC, Make America Great Again Action, made a late $100,000 ad buy.
But Ellzey outraised Wright by a 2-to-1 margin among smaller dollar donors and collected the support of a number of high profile Texas conservatives, including a pair with close ties to Trump: former Gov. Rick Perry, the former President’s first Energy secretary, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who defended Ellzey against a barrage of attacks from the Club for Growth, an anti-tax group, and testified to his allegiance to Trump.
Despite his inability to boost Wright into Congress, the results were not a full rebuke of Trump, who remains popular in the state. But the result showed the limits of his influence — at least at the ballot box. On the trail, both candidates embraced his political agenda and there was little daylight between them on the policy front. The dividing lines, ultimately, formed around endorsements and alliances.
Trump narrowly won the district in 2020, an increasingly competive one in North Texas that includes Ellis, Navarro and parts of Tarrant counties. His margin of victory diminished from 2016 and was down from former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s four years earlier.
Ellzey, a former Navy fighter pilot, also actively sought the support of Trump’s supporters. He released a video titled “Trump Supporters Love Jake Ellzey” and attended Trump’s and Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s border visit last month.
The race came down to the pair of Republicans after none of the more than 20 candidates in the May 1 election won an outright majority. Ellzey edged out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez for his place in the Tuesday run-off by fewer than 400 votes, guaranteeing that the balance of power in the House, where Democrats hold a razor-thin majority, would not change.
Ellzey’s victory comes on his second attempt to win the seat. He previously ran in 2018 but lost the GOP primary to Ron Wright.
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