DALLAS — Susan Wright's campaign consultants are confident that she's well ahead of state Rep. Jake Ellzey in North Texas' District 6 runoff for Congress.
But in advance of Tuesday's election, Donald Trump's Make America Great Again Action PAC has dropped a last-minute, $100,000 campaign ad buy to help secure victory for Wright, records show.
The ad buy follows Trump's restatement this week of his endorsement of Wright, who is running to replace her late husband, Ron Wright, who died in February after battling COVID-19 and cancer.
Is Trump worried that Wright is vulnerable, despite her campaign aides releasing an internal poll that shows her up by 12 percentage points over Ellzey?
Ellzey has raised more campaign cash than his rival. From the period between April 12 and July 7, which captures the final weeks of the primary and most of the runoff stage, Wright raised $454,286, bringing her total for the entire election cycle to $740,617. In the same period Ellzey raised $1.2 million, bringing his total campaign haul to $1.7 million.
But candidate fundraising totals don't tell the entire story. The anti-tax group called the Club for Growth has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars promoting Wright and slashing Ellzey in mailers and campaign ads.
The wildcards in the contests are the voters. It's rare to have a runoff in the dead of summer, and both candidates need strong voter turnout efforts to get their supporters to the polls.
When asked about Make America Great Again Action PAC buy, Matthew Langston, Wright's chief campaign consultant, surmised that the ads were designed to get voters to the polls.
"It's just GOTV (get out the vote) to compensate for a low turnout election," Langston said. "It's about getting Trump voters to the polls."
Trump is expected to have some sort of virtual event, perhaps on Monday, designed to get voters to the polls. Before the May primary election, he had a tele-town hall event that was sponsored by the Club for Growth.
Craig Murphy, Ellzey's chief consultant, said the ad buy simply confirms that Trump is backing Wright, which voters already know. He says he's happy with the response Ellzey got at early voting polling locations.
Trump made an 11th hour endorsement of Wright just days before the May primary featuring 23 candidates. The former president remains extremely popular with the GOP base, and his backing of Wright is believed to have powered her to a first-place finish in the contest, beating Ellzey by 4,200 votes.