Ellzey joins Susan Wright in U.S. House runoff

Vote count drags into Sunday afternoon for final berth in June 5 balloting

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
The new Ellis County Elections Office, located at 204 E. Jefferson St. in Waxahachie.
Jake Ellzey
Susan Wright

The U.S. House District 6 seat will remain in Republican hands through at the least the end of 2022, as the top two GOP candidates in the race advance to a June 5 runoff.

Freshman Texas House Rep. Jake Ellzey of Ellis County pulled out an extremely close vote over Democrat Jana Sanchez to finish second in a special election that was held Saturday to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Rep. Ron Wright.

The Associated Press finally declared Ellzey a finalist for the runoff at about 3 p.m. on Sunday with almost all votes counted.

Ellzey, who was just elected in November to the Texas House District 10 seat, will face fellow Republican Susan Wright, the congressman’s widow, in the runoff after prevailing over Sanchez by an unofficial margin of 354 votes across the entire three-county district.

Susan Wright, whose husband died in February from complications of COVID-19 and stage-4 lung cancer, led the entire district with 15,020 votes or 19.2 percent.

Ellzey unsurprisingly led the voting total in Ellis County, garnering 3,617 votes or 30.08 percent of the vote. But running a strong second in the county was former Trump administration official Brian Harrison with 2,556 votes or 21.26 percent. Susan Wright was in third place with 2,050 votes or 17.05 percent.

Mrs. Wright, who received a late endorsement from former President Donald Trump, was widely considered as one of the favorites in the special election, which pitted candidates from all parties into a single vote according to Texas state law. But Ellzey received backing from former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and boasted a fundraising total of more than $500,000 in pre-election filings.

In the heavily-red enclave of Ellis County, Democratic votes were sparse. Sanchez, an Ellis County native who resides in Fort Worth, was the top vote-getter among blue voters with 1,084 votes, or 9.02 percent. Shawn Lassiter was a surprising second with 387 votes and Lydia Bean was third with 319.

District 6 includes not only Ellis County but also Navarro County and heavily-populated portions of Fort Worth, Arlington and Mansfield in Tarrant County. The suburban vote accounts for as much as 70 percent of the population in the district.

Early voting for the special election ended on Tuesday and was completed well before Friday’s last-minute turmoil, when a robocall campaign insinuated that Susan Wright caused her husband’s death by purposefully infecting him with COVID. One of these calls was received by Waxahachie Media Group.

Mrs. Wright vehemently denied the accusation and reported it to authorities. The source of the robocall initiative is not known to date.

The runoff election will take place on Saturday, June 5. The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce has already scheduled a candidates’ luncheon involving the two finalists on Wednesday, May 12.