Texas GOP gears up for contentious runoff in TX-6 congressional race as Democrats grapple with being shutout

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The U.S. Capitol at sunrise, in Washington, D.C., on May 4, 2021. Credit: Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via REUTERS

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Days after getting locked out of a special election runoff for Congress in North Texas, Democrats are mulling over what went wrong — and assigning some blame — for the unflattering start to the 2022 election cycle.

At the same time, Republicans are preparing for a contentious runoff between Susan Wright and Jake Ellzey, even though Wright, backed by former President Donald Trump, would appear to start as the favorite.

National Democrats had kept their distance from the first round and few in the party touted it as a certain bellwether. But the failure to advance to the runoff still stung, and left Democrats — especially their top vote-getter — openly speculating about their shortcomings.

That top vote-getter, Jana Lynne Sanchez, said Monday she was “sounding the alarm bell” that 2022 could serve a “major setback” for Democrats if they do not better organize and prepare. She also said that recent events — like the deadly U.S. Capitol riot in January and Texas’ winter power crisis — did not galvanize Democratic voters as much as she thought they would. And she has blamed an intraparty opponent, Lydia Bean, for siphoning off key Democratic support when Bean, Sanchez argues, had little chance of winning.

To other Democrats, the die was cast when 10 Democrats filed to run and there was no obvious effort by the party to cull the field before or after.

“I don’t know exactly what the answer is, but a race with 10 Democrats in an already GOP-favored district is a foolish errand,” said Joel Montfort, a Democratic strategist in North Texas who was not involved in the special election. “We played right into their hands, that’s for sure.”