Democrats Took a Gut Punch in a Texas Special Election Last Night

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

You didn’t hear much about it, but Texas‘ 6th Congressional District held a special election last night to fill recently passed Rep. Ron Wright’s seat. The two winners, Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey, will now go head to head in a runoff.

But what really makes this a gut punch for Democrats is that both of the above names are Republicans. It was a complete lockout in a district that Democrats had not only hoped to compete in, but also flip blue. Nancy Pelosi can’t be pleased.

There are several things to note here. This was only a Trump +3 district in 2020, and it’s exactly the kind of suburban district that Democrats have been very bullish on making further gains in. Despite that, the Republicans not only took back ground but took back the entire battlefield, perhaps signaling a return to normal voting patterns in some of these places that were previously trending blue.

Unlike in the past, the media are going to downplay this. When it’s a Democrat winning a toss-up race in a special election, that’s spread far and wide as proof of a coming blue wave. When it’s a Republican, it’s just too soon to tell. We all know how it goes, but this win does matter, regardless of how it’s spun. The GOP needed to show it could make inroads into the suburban districts that left the party from 2018-2020. This was a good data point.

It’s also worth noting that there was a rabid Never Trumper candidate in this race. That person got glowing magazine spreads, and tons of MSNBC and CNN time. Yet, they won less than 3% of the vote.

Let this be a lesson to Republicans. You don’t have to talk about Trump all the time or be full-blown MAGA, but if your entire political identity revolves around being “anti-Trump,” Republican voters will respond accordingly. That’s doubly true if you spend all your time on left-wing cable news bashing your own party. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger should probably take some notes after last night, because they are headed for the same kind of trouble, if either garners a decent primary challenger.