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Voters head to polls Saturday to fill vacant Texas U.S. House seat

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Widow of late GOP U.S. Rep. Ron Wright among 23 candidates in 6th District race

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

TexasARLINGTON, Texas (CFP) — Voters in Texas 6th U.S. House District will head to the polls Saturday to choose from among 23 candidates in a special election to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, who died in February from COVID-19.

Among the candidates in the field are Wright’s widow, Susan, along with an assault-weapon-toting former professional wrestler who ran for Congress in Nevada in November, a Korean-American who made headlines with anti-Chinese comments, and that rarest of creatures, an openly anti-Trump Republican.

A key question to be answered in Saturday’s all-party contest will be whether any of the 10 Democrats in the race can gain a spot in a likely runoff and flip a district Donald Trump carried by just 3 points in November.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in the metro Dallas-Fort Worth district, which includes Arlington and parts of Tarrant County, along with Ellis and Navarro counties to the south.

Among Republicans, polls have shown Susan Wright in a close fight with State Rep. Jake Elizey from Ellis County, just ahead of Brian Harrison, a former chief of staff in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Trump administration who led the race in fundraising.

Among Democrats, Jana Lynne Sanchez, whose unsuccessful 2018 race against Ron Wright was chronicled in the Showtime documentary “Surge,” has led in the polls.

She is competing for Democratic votes against Shawn Lassiter, a public school administrator from Fort Worth who was the top fundraiser among Democratic candidates, and Lydia Bean, a university researcher who was endorsed by the Tarrant County AFL-CIO.

Democrat Stephen Daniel, who lost to Ron Wright by 7 points in November, did not run again.

The race — the second special election for a Republican-held seat since Trump’s loss in November — drew national attention due to a number of colorful candidates who entered the wide-open contest.

Dan Rodimer, a former professional wrestler who was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for a House seat in the Las Vegas area in 2020, parachuted into Texas to try again, airing an ad in which he carried an assault rifle and vowed to “strip power” from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — a stance that raised eyebrows in the wake of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Sery Kim, a Korean-American who served in the Small Business Administration under Trump, drew criticism when she said during a forum that she did not want Chinese immigrants in the United States “at all” and blamed them for bringing  COVID-19 into the United States.

While she insisted that her remarks were directed at the Chinese Communist Party and were not racist, she was unendorsed by both Korean-American women Republicans now serving in Congress.

Michael Wood, a businessman and former Marine Corps officer, ran openly in the race as an anti-Trump Republican, charging that the GOP has devolved into a “cult of personality” and calling Trump’s actions before the Jan. 6 attack “one of the worst things an American president has ever done.”

While that earned him an endorsement from Trump critic U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Saturday will be a test of what that message has any resonance among suburban Republicans in the Lone Star State.

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