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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The widow of a Texas congressman who died after contracting COVID-19 carried Donald Trump’s approval in a special election on Saturday, while Democrats and GOP critics of the former president hoped voters would send a surprising message to the rest instead. the United States

The race has attracted only modest attention beyond Texas’ 6th Congressional District, which includes the burgeoning corridor between Dallas and Fort Worth. Yet this poses a first test for suburban voters since Trump stepped down.

Trump waited just days before the election to endorse Susan Wright, a GOP activist and widow of the late Representative Ron Wright, who in February became the first congressman to die after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Susan Wright had previously been considered a favorite in a crowded race to take the seat of her late husband, who won the district by 9 points in November.

Nearly two dozen other candidates are on the ballot, making it likely that Saturday’s top two finalists will advance to a run-off if no one gets more than half the vote.

Most of the running Republicans have made blatant appeals to Trump and his supporters in a race that at times feels like a typical Texas GOP primary. The only exception is Michael Wood, a combat veteran whose campaign has become an early test for Republican Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is trying to lead a revolt in his party away from Trump.

For Democrats, the district is one they ambitiously saw as a goal in 2020. Ten Democrats are on the ballot, but nationally, the party and its allies backed away from the race after their expectations massive for Texas last year again ended in a demoralizing display. .

In Louisiana, a special election in March ended with Republican Julia Letlow easily winning a race for a seat in the United States House that her husband, Luke, was unable to fill due to her death from the complications from COVID-19.

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