Susan Wright faces off against fellow Republican Jake Ellzey in Tuesday’s special election runoff to replace her late husband, U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, R-Arlington, in an early gauge of Donald Trump’s political influence since leaving the White House.
The former president has backed Wright, a longtime Republican activist, and made a last-minute pitch for her during a telephone rally Monday night, gloating over the May 1 special election in which she finished first — and Democrats failed to advance a candidate.
“She has my complete and total endorsement,” Trump said. “She’s the only one. I’m endorsing one person. As you know, we had a very successful little bout a couple of months ago, and Susan came out along with somebody else, and we did knock out the Democrat, and that was a big achievement that the press — the fake news, as I call it — doesn’t like talking about.”
Ellzey, a Waxahachie state representative, has been leaning on support from former Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Houston. Perry and other Ellzey supporters have claimed Trump was misled into endorsing Wright.
Susan Wright and Ellzey are vying to finish the term of Ron Wright, who died earlier this year after contracting COVID-19. His Republican-leaning seat touches Fort Worth and stretches southeast to more rural areas.
Susan Wright was the top vote-getter in the May 1 special election, which featured 22 other candidates. She finished with 19% of votes; Ellzey got 14%.
Democrats had hopes of flipping the seat after Trump won it by only 3 percentage points last year, but one of their candidates, Jana Lynne Sanchez, placed third and narrowly missed the runoff.
Still, Ellzey has kept things competitive in the runoff. He raised nearly three times as much as Wright did in the latest campaign finance reporting period, secured Crenshaw’s endorsement and has rallied supporters against a barrage of attacks from the top outside group backing Wright, the Club for Growth.
While Wright’s campaign has projected confidence in recent days, there has been a late increase in outside spending on her behalf, including from a Trump-aligned super PAC. Trump has issued three statements reiterating his support for Wright during the runoff, mostly recently Monday. He also has recorded a robocall to get out the vote for her Tuesday.
Trump’s tele-rally Monday night was similar to one he did two days before the May 1 special election. Trump endorsed Wright late in the early-voting period for that election, and results later showed she surged in election-day ballots after virtually tying Ellzey in early voting.
Trump repeatedly mentioned Ron Wright on Monday night, saying Susan Wright “will carry on his legacy and stand up to the radical left and fight for our America First agenda.”
“Susan, Ron is looking down on you,” Trump said, “and he’s very, very proud right now.”
Check back here for live results from the race after polls close Tuesday night.
This story originally appeared in the Texas Tribune. To read this article in its original format, click here