© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The dome of the US Capitol seen in Washington
By Susan Cornwell WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Texas Republican backed by former President Donald Trump advanced to a runoff to fill a vacancy in the U.S. House of Representatives left behind by the death of her husband, while Democrats were excluded of the contest. Susan Wright, whose husband Ron Wright became the first sitting member of Congress to die of COVID-19 in February, garnered the most votes Saturday in a packed field of 23 candidates vying to represent the sixth congressional district of the United States. condition. Wright was heading for a runoff against another Republican in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth, a long-time Republican-controlled district. Democrats hoped to take the seat to expand their small majority in the House. But they admitted on Sunday that they had missed the opportunity. Wright received 19.2% of the vote, followed by former military fighter pilot Jake Ellzey, another Republican, who got 13.8%, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. Only 354 votes and less than half a percentage point separated Ellzey from Democrat Jana Lynne Sánchez, who was in third place with 13.4%. “Democrats have come a long way to compete in Texas, but we still have a long way to go,” Sanchez, granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, said in a statement. “Two Republicans will compete to represent this Congressional district.” Trump, in a statement, congratulated Wright. “Susan shot up after I gave her an endorsement last week,” he said. A second round is required between the first two voters, as no candidate obtained a majority in the first round. A second round date has not yet been set. In a bizarre twist on the eve of the election, Wright’s campaign asked federal law enforcement authorities to investigate reports of robocalls falsely alleging that she had murdered her husband. The election was the first test of the Texas electorate since President Joe Biden‘s 2020 election victory. Trump defeated Biden in Texas, a state where Democrats hope to make progress. The result may deprive Democrats of their best chance of winning a Republican-held House seat in several special elections scheduled this year to replace House members who died, retired, or took office. of Biden. The national Democratic Party did not endorse any candidate in the race, although Democrats have made progress in the North Texas district in recent years. Trump won the district by 3 percentage points last year. “The Democrats didn’t get their people out and then as they did … they split a lot of the Democratic votes,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University. Jones said Trump’s endorsement, which came just days before the election, appeared to have helped Wright. There were 10 Democrats in the race, as well as 11 Republicans, an Independent, and a Libertarian. Every House seat counts, as Democrats currently hold a narrow six-seat majority and will fight to maintain control of both houses of Congress in the 2022 midterm elections.