Trump Fave Susan Wright Scores Upset 2nd Place Victory In Texas Special Election
Here's some good news for George P. Bush, who humiliated himself and his family in a failed effort to win Donald Trump's endorsement for Texas attorney general. (Trump stuck with incumbent Ken Paxton, his co-conspirator in unsuccessful election coups.) Tuesday was the special election runoff to fill the late Rep. Ron Wright's seat, and it turns out that the endorsement of a disgraced, one-term president who inspires violent attacks on the US Capitol isn't worth that much.
Trump had endorsed Susan Wright, the congressman's widow, but state Rep. Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie won the runoff decisively with 53 percent of the vote. Wha' happened? The former White House squatter is supposedly a kingmaker, who keeps Republicans in line under threat of a primary challenge.
We even double-checked: Trump definitely endorsed Wright, even though as Rick Perry suggested, he probably couldn't pick her out of a lineup: "He has no idea who she is, has no idea what she believes."
The voters in the special election apparently had the same problem. Wright reportedly ran a craptastic campaign, and Trump's vague, LinkedIn testimonials on her behalf didn't help. This was his most recent one:
Susan is outstanding, and her late husband, Congressman Ron Wright, is looking down and is very proud of her. She will serve the people of the Great State of Texas in the 6th Congressional District very well. Susan is for Strong Borders, Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment, Great Education, and will fight to bring back Free and Fair elections. Susan has my Complete and Total Endorsement. She will make our Country proud
Wow, it's as if she's actually a Republican from Texas!
Wright's opponent wasn't a Democrat, so she couldn't just shout "socialism!" and “critical race theory!" Ellzey is an equally awful Republican, one who described Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as a “socialist bartender." The congresswoman has not served drinks professionally for years now, but Republicans won't stop hammering this point. It's like they're all tee-totalers.
Ellzey out-raised Wright, who relied heavily on the Club for Growth, but the organization ran ads against Ellzey that were so relentlessly negative that many Republicans, including Rep. Dan Crenshaw, wound up endorsing Ellzey out of solidarity. That's not the best use of your Super PAC dollars.
During his victory speech Tuesday night, Ellzey further embraced the superficial, morning in America approach.
One of the things that we've seen from this campaign is a positive outlook — a Reagan Republican outlook for the future of our country — is what the people of the 6th District really, really want.
Conversely, Wright tweeted: "Special elections are special, and this one was no exception." If she'd stopped there, that would've merited inclusion on one of those inspirational quote-of-the-day calendars, but the rest was just boilerplate congratulations for Ellzey. This is why people need editors.
Trump is incapable of complex strategic thinking, so it's not a surprise that Texas Republicans believe he backed Wright because he believed widows were difficult to beat. He'd reached this conclusion because he'd endorsed Rep. Julia Letlow, whose husband, Luke, had also died of COVID-19 (it's an unsettling pattern). This was the electoral equivalent of athletes wearing their “lucky socks" on game day. Trump clearly doesn't understand the difference between causation and correlation. He might not even realize that people still exist if he can't see them.
President Joe Biden only lost the Sixth District by three points, but a Democratic candidate somehow failed to make the runoff. Cook Political Editor Dave Wasserman theorized that with two Republicans competing, Democratic voters turned out for the one without the mark of Trump.
.@JakeEllzey tells @MarkDavis that the notion his #TX06 win was a repudiation of Trump is "nonsense." "I have neve… https://t.co/mcu3TUyLTf— Patrick Svitek (@Patrick Svitek) 1627475273.0
But don't go breaking Trump's heart with assertions that he's not a political juggernaut. Ellzey made sure not to poke the bear during his victory lap. The future congressman denied that his victory was a repudiation of Trump and insisted that “the president [he's no longer the president] is still exceptionally popular in this district." Ellzey is probably aware that Trump barely carried the Sixth, but if he wants to hold the seat next year, he can't risk offending Trump.
That's all Trump offers the GOP and America in general: He can't help much but he can still hurt.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."