Updated at 4 p.m. with Trump reiterating his endorsement of Susan Wright.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Wednesday said former President Donald Trump received misleading information that prompted him to endorse Republican activist Susan Wright for Congress.
Perry, who served as Secretary of the Department of Energy under Trump, is backing Wright’s rival —state Rep. Jake Ellzey — for the District 6 seat once held by Ron Wright, Susan Wright’s late husband. Perry contends that Trump was given bogus information by the leader of the conservative group called the Club for Growth. That information, Perry says, unfairly disparaged Ellzey.
“I explained to the president where he had been fed a bill of goods,” Perry told The Dallas Morning News. “I think he recognizes it to some degree.”
Perry then unloaded on the Club for Growth, calling them a “corrupt” organization that distorts facts in order to promote their choices in elections.
“This is the same Club for Growth that spent millions of dollars against Donald Trump,” Perry said.
On Wednesday Trump restated his endorsement of Wright via email.
“Big election coming up on Tuesday, July 27, in Texas.,” he wrote. “Go out and vote for Susan Wright! Susan is outstanding, and her late husband, Congressman Ron Wright, is looking down and is very proud of her. She will serve the people of the Great State of Texas in the 6th Congressional District very well.”
He then touted Wright’s conservative credentials.
“Susan is for Strong Borders, Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment, Great Education, and will fight to bring back Free and Fair elections. Susan has my Complete and Total Endorsement.,” he wrote. “She will make our Country proud. Vote on Tuesday!”
In response to Perry, Joe Kildea, a vice president for Club for Growth, directed The News to comments Trump made about his backing of Wright during a May tele-town hall meeting.
“It’s just my honor to also get involved and be involved in this race,” Trump said as he praised his partnership with the Club for Growth. “We’ve worked together. We’ve never had a loss together. Every time we’ve gone after someone and, you know, supported and worked for someone, we’ve had victory. So I hope everybody can get out on Saturday, May 1, and vote for Susan Wright.”
Wright’s general consultant, Matthew Langston, fired back at Perry. He alluded to a 2012 presidential debate, when Perry famously forgot the federal agencies he would cut.
“Oops! Looks like Rick Perry has no idea what he’s talking about again,” Langston said. “President Trump knows Susan and Ron very well, and he also knows Jake Ellzey is a weak RINO who takes money from Never-Trumpers like Bill Kristol. Susan is the clear conservative choice to advance President Trump’s America First Agenda in Congress.”
Trump, who remains the most formidable figure in the Republican Party, has already played a key role in the District 6 special election to replace Ron Wright. In the May primary that featured 23 candidates, Trump’s 11th hour endorsement of Wright is credited with her first-place finish. She beat Ellzey by 4,200 votes.
With Trump’s backing, Wright is considered the frontrunner in Tuesday’s runoff. But Ellzey, who represents a statehouse district inside the congressional district, has significant support.
Perry said he told Trump that the Club for Growth was unfairly maligning Ellzey with their ads, including at least nine campaign mailers that cast the Waxahachie Republican as a tool for Democrats who is soft on border security and against Trump. Ellzey and his supporters say none of it is true.
And the mailers are the reason the man who held the seat for 34 years, Joe Barton, has endorsed Ellzey over Wright, an Arlington Republican.
“The president fell for that lie,” Perry said, adding that Club for Growth president David McIntosh was instrumental in securing the former president’s support for Wright. “I’m sure he turned to one of his folks and said ‘let’s endorse this lady McIntosh is for.’”
Perry pointed to a recent Club for Growth mailer as evidence that they are distorting Ellzey’s record.
“Putting forward this last mailer that I saw, dark and ominous looking Jake Ellzey with Nancy Pelosi looking over his shoulder, that about as heinous as you can get in my opinion,” Perry said.
The former Texas governor then criticized Wright, saying she should tell officials at Club for Growth to stop their mailers.
“If Susan Wright doesn’t do that, I think she’ll get beat, and she should get beat,” Perry said.