Republicans Jake Ellzey and Susan Wright will face off in a runoff for the US Congressional District 6 special election.

With little that separates them ideologically, the Congressional District 6 candidates headed to a runoff are touting their experience providing constituent services.

Jake Ellzey began representing District 10 in the Texas House of Representatives in January and said in the months since he’s helped veterans, even those not in his district, obtain their disability rating and receive benefits. 

“The state house doesn’t give you much of a budget for personnel, but I have two people working on constituent services. I have an office in Waxahachie and someone who roams throughout the district,” Ellzey, a former fighter pilot who served on the Texas Veterans Commission, said during a telephone interview with the Fort Worth Report. “That is a pure passion for me.”

He said if elected to Congress, he’d open district offices in Tarrant, Navarro and Ellis counties.

Susan Wright, on the other hand, served as district director for two state representatives and has worked for years alongside many Texas Republicans, including her late husband, Ron Wright, whose COVID-19-related death necessitated the special election.

“When our country was battling COVID-19, I was the point person in former State Representative Bill Zedler’s office that helped thousands of Tarrant County residents and businesses utilize state and federal aid to stay afloat during the shutdowns,” she wrote in a statement to the Report.

The two garnered the most votes out of 23 candidates vying to fill the seat. Both Republicans support former President Donald J. Trump, although Wright ultimately earned his coveted endorsement.

Helping constituents navigate federal bureaucracy is one of the most tangible ways members of Congress can connect with voters and ultimately get re-elected, Texas Christian University Political Science Professor James Riddlesperger said. Both candidates have arguments to make about that, he said.

Wright, he said, “is able to claim that she can access the machine of Donald Trump both in terms of politics and in terms of policy” while Ellzey “can say, ‘I’m actually in the legislature, not Congress, but the State Legislature, and actually have legislative experience.”

“And they’re going to have to make those arguments because the truth is in terms of their policy preferences, there’s not that much that separates them. I can’t off the top of my head think of an issue where they would be on different sides,” Riddlesperger added.

Both candidates claim to defend the 2nd amendment, oppose abortion and support law enforcement. They both want to lower taxes, improve public education and express concern about election integrity.

In a Texas Tribune article, Wright criticized Ellzey for being soft on immigration. When asked by the Report what she meant by that and how she differed on the issue from Ellzey, she replied through her consultant, Big Dog Strategies, simply, “I will fight to re-secure the border that President (Joseph R.) Biden wrecked …”

In his interview with the Report, Ellzey said he wanted to send more law enforcement to the border to stop human trafficking. 

He agreed that he and Wright agree on a lot.

“But I think that needs to be vetted and I think we need to have a debate in order to flesh that out as well so I look forward to debating as often as possible so that question can be answered,” Ellzey said.

There is currently no debate planned.

According to the Texas Secretary of State’s Office, Wright received 19.21% of the votes May 1 while Ellzey received 13.85% of the votes.

Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Greg Abbott scheduled the Congressional District 6 runoff for July 27. Early voting starts July 19.

“As district director, I know firsthand how important constituent services are, and I will continue my husband’s emphasis on serving the people here at home. Ron, too, was district director, and placed a very high value on visible, responsive constituent services. I will continue to stress the importance of strong community outreach and reliable constituent services in all of my district offices,” Wright wrote.

Jessica Priest is an investigative journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at jessica.priest@fortworthreport.org or via Twitter

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Jessica Priest

Jessica Priest is Fort Worth Report's government and accountability reporter. She was previously on USA TODAY's regional investigative team. After Jessica reported that a Midland County prosecutor worked...

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