Katrina Pierson, a Trump campaign aide in 2016 and adviser in 2020, is planning to enter the race for the U.S. Congress seat in Texas left vacant when Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) died after contracting COVID-19 earlier this year.
She is expected to get the former President’s endorsement, sources told the Hill.
The jungle primary is scheduled for May 1, and candidates have until Wednesday to file. If no candidate gets over 50 percent of the vote, there will be a runoff between the two candidates with the highest vote shares.
Pierson has run for Congress before, losing in a primary to Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) in 2014. She also spoke at the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6 that morphed into the Capitol insurrection.
“Americans will stand up for themselves and protect their rights and they will demand that the politicians that we elect uphold those rights, or we will go after them,” she said then. She added on stage that she meant going after Republicans through the ballot box.
She also served as a liaison between rally organizers and the White House, the New York Times reported.
Wright’s widow, Republican activist Susan Wright, also plans to run, as does Sery Kim, who worked for Trump’s Health and Human Services department, and state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R). A smattering of Democrats have also announced, including Jana Lynne Sanchez, who lost to Wright in 2018.
While Republicans seem to be early favorites to hold the seat, it may look tantalizing to Democrats: the district has gotten progressively bluer in presidential elections, with former President Donald Trump only winning it by three points in 2020.
“The district is almost like a tug-of-war,” J. Miles Coleman, associate editor at the University of Virginia’s Sabato’s Crystal Ball, told TPM in a recent interview. “Tarrant County makes up about 70% of the district, and Biden carried that part by 11% last year. But the other 30% of the seat comes from Ellis and Navarro counties — both more exurban/rural and are very Republican.”
Wright, who won by about eight points in 2020, was able to run ahead of the ticket by keeping his loss relatively close in Tarrant County and running up the score in the Republican areas. Tarrant is also part suburban, Coleman said, indicating likely “soft Republican voters” who are cut from an older GOP cloth. They don’t like Trump, but vote for Republicans down-ballot. Whether those voters would switch to a Democrat in the special election may be a determining factor.
It’s also not yet clear the extent to which Democrats will actually compete. Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, declined to say if the DCCC will make a play in a recent Washington Post interview. “We’re looking at it,” he said, pivoting to the recent power grid disaster in the state.
Coleman said that while Sabato’s Crystal Ball has rated the race “likely Republican,” he sees it as “fluid” because of the large and growing field of contenders.
It’s “not totally safe for the GOP, but they’re the initial favorite,” he said.