FORT WORTH, Texas - Early voting begins Monday in the runoff to fill a seat vacated by the late Congressman Ron Wright.
Wright passed away in February after a battle with cancer and COVID-19.
Initially, there were 23 candidates on the ballot to replace him.
His widow, Susan Wright, and State Rep. Jake Ellzey are the final two candidates in the District 6 race. Both are Republicans.
Wright, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump, was the top vote-getter in the general election. She received 19% of the vote. She made it clear she wanted to continue her husband’s legacy.
"It’s been challenging at times, but the work goes," she said. "He would want me to do what he did, which is engage with voters, hear what they have to say and talk to them. So that is what we are doing."
Wright’s resume includes district director to two former state reps plus serving on the governing board for the Republican Party of Texas.
"We’ve got deep ties throughout the district and familiar with the issues and familiar with the political process with the Republican Party," she said.
Ellzey is a freshman in the Texas House from Waxahachie. He assumed office in January and two months later announced he would run in the special election. He challenged Ron Wright in 2018 but lost in the Republican primary.
Ellzey earned 15% of the vote, narrowly edging Democratic candidate Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than 400 votes.
"I don’t like the divisiveness in our party. I don’t believe in the divisiveness in our country,’ he said. "I am a regular Republican. Brighter days are ahead."
Ellzey believes his positive message appeals to voters.
"I have a 97% voting record in the Texas House," he said. "And in the last week of the campaign, I am doing my job."
Ellzey is backed by former District 6 Congressman Joe Barton and former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
However, SMU pollical science expert Matthew Wilson says Trump’s endorsement of Wright is a huge factor.
"In a race where there aren’t many policy issue differences between the two candidates, the fact that Wright has Trump’s endorsement is a differentiating factor," he said. "Both for better and for worse."
In the May special election, Wright received 19% of the vote. Ellzey got 14%, leading to a dual Republican race.
Wilson says the other big factor will be voter turnout.
"What happens to those voters who in the instill round supported other than Wright or Ellzey?" he said. "Do they show up? Are they motivated to vote? And which way to they break?"
Wright is looking to continue her husband’s legacy in Washington while Ellzey says he’s prepared to make trips to and from Austin right up until election day with a special session still underway.
District 6 covers Ellis, Navarro and parts of Tarrant County.
Election day for this race is next Tuesday.