Arlington Republican’s death opens up a potentially competitive House seat
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
DALLAS (CFP) — Three months after being elected to a second term in Congress, Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Wright died Sunday after battling COVID-19 and lung cancer, become the first sitting member of Congress to die during the pandemic.
A statement from his office said Wright died peacefully at a hospital in Dallas with his wife, Susan, at his side. He had announced January 21 that he had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been hospitalized for the past two weeks.
Wright, 67, had been diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2019, about seven months after arriving in Congress, but ran for re-election in November as he continued treatment. His final vote in Congress was against the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
Wright’s death opens up a vacancy in Texas’s 6th U.S. House District in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburbs.
Democrats had targeted Wright’s seat as a pickup opportunity in 2020, but he defeated Democrat Stephen Daniel by nearly 9 points. However, the special election will present a new dynamic because candidates from all parties will run in the same race, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff if no one gains a majority.
In the 2020 election, Trump only carried the district by 3 points over President Joe Biden. About 47% of the district’s residents identify as African American, Latino or Asian.
While Wright is the first sitting member of Congress to die from COVID-19, the pandemic claimed Republican U.S. Rep-elect Luke Letlow of Louisiana, who died in December before being sworn in.
Prior to his election to Congress, Wright had served as a city councilman in Arlington and as the tax assessor in Tarrant County. He was also chief of staff for his predecessor in the House, former U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, who retired in 2019.
The district includes southeast Tarrant County and Ellis and Navarro counties to the south.
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