No one will be talking politics out loud anytime soon in Texas' 6th District, out of respect to the late Republican Rep. Ron Wright.
Wright, 67, died Monday after a bout with COVID-19. Before contracting the virus, two-termer Wright had been in a months-long battle with lung cancer.
But speaking on background, sources familiar with the Dallas-Fort Worth area district universally agreed Democrats will make a strong bid for the seat in what is likely to become the first competitive special election for the House in 2021.
"Ron was a good guy but the Democrat got 44% of the vote against him in '18 and last November," said one longtime Fort Worth Republican activist. "And this district is changing."
Since then-Democrat Rep. Phil Gramm resigned his House seat in 1983 and won it in a special election as a Republican, the 6th District has been firmly in the GOP's grip. When Gramm ran for the Senate in 1984, fellow conservative Republican Joe Barton won the House seat and held it until his retirement in 2018.
Wright, Barton's chief of staff and a former mayor pro tempore of Arlington, Texas, thereupon won the seat and was reelected.
Former President Donald Trump won the 6th District with 54.2% in 2016 and last year barely won it by 51% to his opponent's 48%.
Stephen Daniel — attorney, 2020 Democrat nominee, and close ally of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins — is almost certain to be the Democrat nominee in the special election to be called by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
Among Republicans, most of the early talk centers on a candidacy by state Rep. Jake Ellzey. A former U.S. Navy fighter pilot and social aide in the White House of former President George W. Bush, Ellzey narrowly (51% to 49%) lost the runoff election for Congress to Wright in 2018.
Both were strong conservatives — strongly pro-life, hard-liners on immigration, and vigorously pro-Trump. Last year, Ellzey bounced back to win a seat in the Lone Star State's legislature.
What happens next in the now-vacant 6th District will not be discussed until proper respect has been paid to Wright. But it is almost a foregone conclusion it will be watched and discussed from Fort Worth to Washington as the special election takes shape.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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