Empty chairs on the Texas House floor. Credit: Eddie Gaspar/The Texas Tribune

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Former state Rep. John Wray, R-Waxahachie, faces fellow Republican Brian Harrison in a hard-fought special election runoff Tuesday for Wray’s old Texas House seat.

Harrison is the former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump. Wray held the seat in House District 10 for three terms before passing on a reelection bid last year.

Wray’s successor, Waxahachie Republican Jake Ellzey, ascended to Congress in July, prompting the contest to fill the state House seat. Harrison and Wray were the top two finishers in the eight-way special election late last month, with Harrison finishing 5 points ahead of Wray.

Ellzey, a Waxahachie Republican, has endorsed Wray to succeed him, while Harrison has the backing of U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as he has campaigned as the more reliable conservative.

Look for election results below after 7 p.m. Central.


The runoff has been contentious, with Wray accusing Harrison of deceiving voters about his time in the Trump administration. Harrison has criticized Wray as insufficiently conservative when he previously served in the House.

Education has been a flashpoint in particular, as Harrison has campaigned as a supporter of “school choice” and Wray has positioned himself as a stronger advocate for public schools. An array of teachers groups lined up behind Wray, while Harrison sought to make him answer for their positions that run counter to GOP orthodoxy, like support for mask mandates in schools.

The runoff took a turn for the personal in its final days as Wray’s wife blasted Harrison for “false, negative attacks and rumors about our family.” Wray’s campaign said she was referring to an anonymous text message spreading an unconfirmed rumor about Wray’s 2019 decision not to seek reelection; Harrison’s campaign said it had nothing to do with the text.

The 2021 Texas Tribune Festival, the weeklong celebration of politics and policy featuring big names and bold ideas, wrapped on Sept. 25, but there’s still time to tune in. Explore dozens of free, on-demand events before midnight Thursday, Sept. 30, at tribfest.org.

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