NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) -- Now that Republicans Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey have advanced to the runoff election in the Sixth Congressional District in North Texas, both are vowing to keep their policy positions.
In interviews Monday, Wright, the widow of the late Congressman for the district, Ron Wright, said, "Our message is the same. I'm running to be their member of Congress for everyone in this district. And so what those people, whether they voted for me or they didn't, have to say is very important."
Ellzey, a State Representative from Waxahachie said, "I'm not going to change anything going forward. I have a vision that I see for the greatness of this nation. That's what I'm going to continue to run on and whatever, whoever that appeals to. The folks who are conservative in our district, that appeals to them."
The district includes a part of Tarrant County, and all of Ellis and Navarro Counties.
Democratic candidate Jana Lynne Sanchez, who ran for the seat in 2018, just missed the runoff by 354 votes.
The Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement Sunday saying in part, "I congratulate Jana Lynne Sanchez on her hard-fought campaign, which nearly succeeded in pushing her through to the runoff.. Although a Democrat is not advancing to the runoff, yesterday's incredibly close margins showed that voters are invested in electing Democrats and are fighting for the representation their communities deserve."
Unlike past general elections in 2018 and 2020, Republican candidates earned 4,267 more votes than Democratic candidates in the Tarrant County portion of the Congressional District during this special election.
In 2020, Stephen Daniel, the Democratic candidate beat Congressman Wright in Tarrant County by 11,495 votes.
Two years earlier, Sanchez beat then-candidate Wright in Tarrant County by 9,833 votes.
This was a special election though, which did not include a primary.
A total of 23 candidates ran for the seat, including 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, one Independent, and one Libertarian.
UT Arlington Political Science Department Chair Dr. Rebecca Deen credits the Republican enthusiasm for the large turnout. "I think that because the Republicans lost the presidential election, and they're very much looking forward to winning back the House if they can and in the midterm, you know, their voters are already thinking ahead."
Wright and Ellzey both say their top priority is to secure the border.
They each said they want President Joe Biden to reimplement a policy set by former President Donald Trump that had migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico until they had their day to see an immigration judge.
They also say they oppose the President's plans on infrastructure, universal pre-k, free community college for two years, and paid leave.
The proposals cost about $4 trillion, and the administration has said it would pay for them by increasing income and other taxes on the wealthy.
Before Saturday's vote, Wright won former the former President's endorsement.
During a tele-townhall Thursday evening, the former President said, "Susan is a committed conservative who will fight for our American First Agenda, Make America Great Again."
On Monday, Wright said, "I'm truly honored and excited to have President Trump's endorsement. I think President Trump's endorsement had a significant impact."
The President's tele-townhall came after early voting ended.
Results from early voting, show Wright received 7,110 votes, while Ellzey was right behind with 7,100 votes.
After Saturday's results, Wright received 15,052 votes while Ellzey received 10,851 votes.
Ellzey said he's honored to have received former Governor Rick Perry's endorsement.
But he also had his conservative credentials questioned by Senator Ted Cruz and the group Club for Growth. "I don't know how much the President's endorsement, how much of a difference that made. But I do know that the negative attacks that are based on falsehoods probably hurt quite a bit. And that came from a group and East Coast Club for Growth. And I don't know why they're doing it, but they did it."
While campaigning with Ellzey in Waxahachie Friday, Perry said of the criticism, "That is politics at its worst. I'm for Jake Ellzey. If you can't come into this state of Texas and be for somebody, why don't you stay on the east coast and keep your elite east coast money there. We understand in Texas what conservatism looks like."
Professor Deen said, "Representative Ellzey might be able to pull in some of the Independent voters. But former President Trump is a pretty polarizing figure. So just as he is a motivator for some of the Republican voters, he's an anti-motivator, because he's a reason why someone wouldn't vote for Mrs. Wright."
Runoff elections historically have very low turnout, and both candidates will need their supporters to turn-out.
Deen said she believes Wright is favored to win because she won the most votes in Tarrant and Navarro Counties and by wider margins than Ellzey won in Ellis County. "He's also going to have to present a viable alternative, like why he is a good choice."
Wright came under attack as well in an anonymous robocall sent to voters Friday, making a baseless claim she intentionally gave her husband, the late Congressman Ron Wright Covid-19.
She said, "That was one of the most horrifying things I ever picked up the phone and listen to. I intend to prosecute that and I'm encouraging prosecution to the fullest extent, and I will sue in civil court. There's no place in politics for stuff like that."
Ellzey has also condemned the robocall, saying he will continue to run a positive campaign on the issues.
Professor Deen said she believes the robocall backfired. "There was just such widespread condemnation on them. They were just ugly. I think that whoever was behind this didn't get the outcome that they had wanted."
Governor Greg Abbott will set a date for the runoff election, possibly later this week.
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