“It’s just my honor to also get involved and be involved in this race,” Trump said, touting his partnership with the Club for Growth. “We’ve worked together. We’ve never had a loss together. Every time we’ve gone after someone and, you know, supported and worked for someone, we’ve had victory. So I hope everybody can get out on Saturday, May 1, and vote for Susan Wright.”
Ellzey is a former fighter pilot and a local, having won the Texas House district in Ellis County. He’s also been endorsed by former governor Rick Perry and has outraised almost every other candidate.
All the candidates sought Trump’s coveted endorsement and some are even running on a MAGA platform. There are a couple of minor Trump administration officials who are in the mix, including Brian Harrison, former chief of staff to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. Harrison raised the hackles of other former Trump officials by appearing to claim a closer relationship with the president than he actually had.
Neither Wright or Ellzey have talked much about Trump on the campaign trail, but Trump wanted to make a statement to the national Republican Party that his power is undiminished since leaving office.
Though several Republican candidates were openly running in the MAGA lane, Trump and his legacy didn’t dominate the race until the final weeks. There was a behind-the-scenes jockeying for his endorsement by allies of some leading GOP candidates, and on Monday he made his allegiance known and endorsed Wright, a clear power play that comes with some risk.
Saturday’s voting almost certainly won’t be the final word on the race — in Texas special elections, the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to a runoff if no candidate wins a majority. Prior to receiving Trump’s endorsement, Wright had high name recognition but less campaign cash than her GOP opponents.
In a special election, name recognition is more important than in a regular primary. Trump made a sound political judgment in backing Wright, who may not be the most rabid pro-Trump candidate in the race but is a solid Republican nonetheless.
The Democrats are in danger of splitting their vote between Jana Lynne Sanchez and Shawn Lassiter. In fact, with 10 Democrats in the race, the likelihood of an all-GOP runoff is pretty high.
Trump is testing his influence in the right place. If Wright loses, he can always blame the candidate for running a poor race. If she wins, he’s a political genius. The media will claim Trump is dead no matter what the outcome, but Republicans aren’t paying attention to what the media is saying about the former president so it hardly matters.
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