But the so-called Trump Factor was the biggest subplot in Tuesday’s contest, with Ms. Wright and her supporters hoping the endorsement would propel her to victory. The former president retains an immense hold on Texas Republicans, and he carried the district by 12 points in 2016 before losing ground in the region to Joseph R. Biden Jr. last year.
Ms. Wright, who entered the contest two weeks after her husband’s death, had prominently displayed the former president’s endorsement throughout her campaign and introduced Mr. Trump at a virtual election-eve rally on Monday night.
The Club for Growth, a conservative fiscal organization that supported Mr. Trump in 2020, has also aligned with Ms. Wright, spending $1.2 million to fund ads and mailings attacking Mr. Ellzey’s legislative record and his conservative credentials, prompting fierce rebuttals.
Although the two candidates share similar views on most of the base issues, the Club for Growth attacks injected a harsh tenor into the race, becoming an issue themselves. Mr. Perry, the former governor, described them as “junk” and “absolute trash” and demanded that Ms. Wright disavow the claims, which she refused to do.
Joe Barton, who represented the district in Congress for more than three decades, said the tone of the Club for Growth ads was a factor in his decision to endorse Mr. Ellzey, though he was friends with the Wrights.
Heading into Tuesday’s race, Mr. Ellzey had raised $1.7 million, far more than the $740,000 raised by Ms. Wright, according to news media reports.
Matt Mackowiak, an Austin political consultant and president of the Potomac Strategy Group, said Mr. Ellzey’s ability to overcome the negative advertising was impressive.
“Susan never actively or effectively raised money,” he said. “Campaigns matter and that’s the lesson tonight.”