In the midst of the ongoing battle for the direction of the Republican Party, the Trump side suffered a defeat when Trump-backed candidate Susan Wright lost to another Republican in a special election.
Wright lost to State Rep. Jake Ellzy in a close race, with Wright garnering about 47% of the vote.
Wright was the favorite to succeed her late husband, Congressman Ron Wright, who died from complications from COVID in February.
She had been endorsed not only by former President Donald Trump, but also by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and over 100 members of the Trump administration.
The loss could have implications not just within the GOP, but the 2022 midterm elections as well.
Recently, during an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity show, Trump said to Hannity, “Look, almost everybody I endorse wins.”
Trump is still very popular with average Americans who are Republicans, and GOP candidates will still seek his endorsement prior to 2022. That will still have a lot of influence over those average Americans.
However, Democrats want conventional wisdom to be that a Trump endorsement does not have the magic it once did.
Cal Jillson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said this about candidates seeking a Trump endorsement, “They will love having it and hate losing it, but it will not win races, Candidates and their campaigns win races.”
While every candidate Trump endorses might not win, his backing, including financial backing is very lucrative for any candidates who seek it.
Back in April, it was reported that Trump’s “Save America” PAC had amassed “gargantuan” amounts of cash going into the second quarter of this year. Trump has urged his supporters to donate money to his PAC or to send money directly to the candidates of their choice instead of the Republican Party.
Special elections are not typical though – the real test will come in 2022.
Among the candidates Trump has endorsed include Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Boozman (R-AR), John Kennedy (R-LA), Tim Scott (R-SC), and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster.
Trump has also endorsed North Carolina Congressman Madison Cawthorne (R-NC), Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) in his bid for the Senate, and former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her run for governor of Arkansas.
He recently endorsed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is facing a primary challenge against Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Bush is the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush.
The congressional district Ellzy won is considered Trump country but is getting more competitive. As recently as 2014, Republicans were winning the district with over 60% of the vote. In 2020, Wright won with 53%.
Texas GOP Consultant Matt Mackowiak said of Trump’s endorsements that “Trump must be all-in” with any endorsements he gives.
Of Tuesday’s run-off election result, Mackowiak stated, “He (Trump) didn’t raise money or show up in the district,” Mackowiak said.
“A half-hearted endorsement can be overcome. Susan never actively or effectively raised money. Campaigns matter, and that’s the lesson tonight.”
Of the race, Trump spokesman Liz Harrington argued that there was more at play – namely, Democrats.
USA Today reports, “As for the loss in Texas, Trump allies said he did deliver Republican votes, but Ellzey prevailed with the help of the district’s Democratic voters. ‘The Democrats went out to vote and they all voted for Ellzey,’ said Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington.”
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