A crowd of 23 candidates — including 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats — has filed for the May 1 special election to fill the seat of the late U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, R-Arlington, according to the secretary of state's office.
The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday. The race also attracted one independent and one Libertarian.
The GOP field saw a last-minute surprise. With less than an hour until the deadline, Dan Rodimer, the former professional wrestler who ran as a Republican for Congress last year in Nevada, arrived at the secretary of state's office in Austin to file for the seat.
"We need fighters in Texas, and that’s what I’m coming here for," Rodimer told The Texas Tribune. "I’m moving back to Texas. I have six children and I want them to be raised in a constitutional-friendly state."
Some of the other candidates had already announced their campaigns, most notably including Wright's widow, longtime GOP activist Susan Wright. Other prominent Republican contenders include state Rep. Jake Ellzey of Waxahachie and Brian Harrison, the former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Donald Trump.
On Tuesday evening, one potential major GOP candidate, former Trump campaign adviser Katrina Pierson, announced she was not running.
On the Democratic side, the field includes Jana Lynne Sanchez, the 2018 Democratic nominee for the seat; Lydia Bean, last year's Democratic nominee against state Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth; and Shawn Lassiter, a Fort Worth education nonprofit leader.
Ron Wright died last month after being hospitalized with COVID-19. He had also been battling lung cancer.
His death created a vacancy in the Republican-leaning 6th Congressional District, which spreads southeast from the Dallas-Fort Worth area to rural Ellis and Navarro counties.
The district has been getting increasingly competitive in statewide results, with Trump carrying it by only 3 percentage points last year. However, Ron Wright won it by more healthy margins when he was first elected in 2018 and then reelected in 2020. National Democrats targeted the seat that year. but it remains to be seen how involved they plan to be in the special election.
Early voting for the contest starts April 19.
The full list of candidates who filed:
- Jana Lynne Sanchez
- Patrick Moses
- Lydia Bean
- Shawn Lassiter
- Matt Hinterlong
- Brian K. Stephenson
- Manuel Richard Salazar III
- Daryl J. Eddings Sr.
- Chris Suprun
- Tammy Allison
- Susan Wright
- Jake Ellzey
- Dan Rodimer
- John Anthony Castro
- Sery Kim
- Brian Harrison
- Mike Egan
- Michael Wood
- Jenny Garcia Sharon
- Michael Ballantine
- Travis Rodermund
- Adrian Mizher
- Phil Gray