In a surprising move, one of the Democrats running to challenge U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, suspended her campaign Monday, just under a week after advancing to a runoff.
The Democrat, Elisa Cardnell, finished the three-way primary Tuesday with 31% of the vote to 48% for Sima Ladjevardian, a Houston attorney and Democratic fundraiser endorsed by Beto O'Rourke. National Democrats are targeting the seat.
Cardnell said in a statement that she was proud of what her campaign achieved, "but unfortunately, after a hard look at the numbers, we do not have the resources and clear path to reach a majority in the runoff."
"This is not the outcome any of us were hoping for, but ultimately it is the best thing for our party so the fight against Dan Crenshaw can start today, not in May," Cardnell said, asking her supporters to join her in backing Ladjevardian.
Cardnell had been running for the seat for over a year, while Ladjevardian made a last-minute decision to enter the primary hours before the filing deadline in December. Ladjevardian quickly shook up the primary, drawing O'Rourke's support — she has been an adviser to him — and dwarfing her fellow Democrats in fundraising.
Several weeks after Ladjevardian declared her campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Crenshaw's 2nd District to its list of targeted Texas seats. The DCCC is targeting seven GOP-held seats in the state.
Within a few hours after Cardnell suspended her campaign, the DCCC made clear its support for Ladjevardian, an Iranian immigrant and breast cancer survivor. Calling her the "embodiment of the American dream," DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said in a statement that Ladjevardian is "the leader Houston needs in the 2nd District."
For now, the runoff is still set for May 26, with both Cardnell and Ladjevardian on the ballot. However, Cardnell has until three days after the canvass, which is Sunday, to formally withdraw from the runoff, which would cancel that election and make Ladjevardian the nominee.
"We’re exploring that option and talking with the party about what’s best for this race," Cardnell campaign manager Nick Meier said in a statement. "We haven’t made a decision at this time."