Arlington Republican Ron Wright always stuck by his former boss, U.S. Rep. Joe Barton.
Now, he's stuck with him.
For the next five months, Wright will hear four words over and over: “more of the same.”
As Barton's former chief of staff — but an even more conservative border hawk — Wright inherits both the good and bad of Barton in a November campaign against Ellis County Democratic activist Jana Lynne Sanchez.
At parties 5 miles apart across Arlington, both candidates described the fall campaign in almost the same words.
“She'll support what President Obama did, and I'll support what President Trump is doing,” said Wright, a former Arlington mayor pro tem, county tax assessor and co-founder of Arlington's largest Republican club.
“It'll be about change vs. what we have going on in Washington right now,” said Sanchez, a corporate trainer and communications coach: “Do you want more of the same?”
Republican voters said yes. Wright won a close Republican runoff despite a hard late finish by Ellis County Republican Jake Ellzey, who had help from heavy voting in local races in Ellis and Navarro counties while the Arlington turnout was tepid.
Wright faced the same-old-Barton label throughout the primary.
“I am not more of the same,” he said as early votes came in at a Courtyard by Marriott meeting room in south Arlington.
“For one thing, I have a lot of experience Joe never had. Joe never held office before. … I'm not running away from Barton. It's because of Barton that I have Washington experience that I have.”
In March, Sanchez's campaign sent a fundraising email calling Wright, Barton and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz “swamp creatures.”
She raised more money than all Barton's Democratic opponents combined in 17 campaigns, but it'll take more than that in a year when Democrats' attention is focused on congressional seats in Houston and Dallas.
To a great extent, the Barton-Sanchez race will be driven by the Texas Senate District 10 race between incumbent Colleyville Republican state Sen. Konni Burton and Fort Worth Democrat Beverly Powell. Winning that race is more important than the Congressional seat to Texas Democrats, and it'll be spotlighted at their state convention here June 21-23.
"We worked really hard in south Arlington, Mansfield, Meadowbrook, Handley — that's all in the Senate district too,” Sanchez said. “It's definitely going to help.”
Even Barton, a supporter of keeping here those “Dreamers” and children brought here without permission but schooled here, has said the district is 40 percent Hispanic and a hardline border hawk will have trouble keeping the seat.
After Wright, Ellzey and other candidates told an Arlington forum they opposed keeping Dreamers, Barton said they “ought to get the census numbers and look at them.”
“He and I have a friendly disagreement on that,” Wright said.
Wright isn't another Joe Barton. He's more conservative than Joe Barton.