Former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price lost her bid to become the next Tarrant County judge Tuesday in a stunning defeat by a far-right conservative after a bitter and contentious campaign in the Republican primary.
Price, Fort Worth’s longest serving mayor and a former Tarrant County Tax Assessor-Collector, was defeated 57 to 34 percent by Tim O’Hare, a former Tarrant County Republican Party chairman and ex-mayor of Farmers Branch.
O’Hare mercilessly attacked Price throughout the campaign, claiming she was “disqualified” to be a Republican because she wasted “millions on a diversity and inclusion office that pushes woke Critical Race Theory propaganda.”
O’Hare ran on a platform of lowering county taxes, shoring up law enforcement, and battling to keep Tarrant County a Republican stronghold after shifting demographics saw Democrats Joe Biden and Beto O’Rourke carry the county in 2020 and 2018 races.
O’Hare will face Democrat Deborah Peoples in the November general election. Peoples won the Democratic primary with more than 82 percent of the vote.
“What an unbelievable feeling to wake up this morning as the Republican nominee for Tarrant County Judge,” O’Hare remarked on Twitter Wednesday morning. “To all of our supporters, volunteers and voters, we can’t thank you enough. You were simply amazing. We look forward to working together and winning in November. God is good.”
Price was unavailable for comment.
Price’s defeat was shocking but not completely surprising.
“What’s really surprising is the spread – that she was routed,” said James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. “Although Betsy Price is well-known and well-liked enough in Fort Worth, a lot of Republicans in other parts of the county are strong conservatives.
“Primaries bring out the most passionate voters,” Riddlesperger said.
Riddlesperger also pointed out that historically the party in power at the national level tends to suffer political backlash during midterm elections. Both former Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama suffered major congressional seat losses during midterm elections.
Riddlesperger said that although Biden’s name is not on the ballot he is “a major factor in the election.”
In addition, the Republican Party in Tarrant County – and elsewhere – is trending more conservative and more focused on social and cultural issues than a healthy business climate and prosperity, noted Matt Angle, a Democratic political strategist and Tarrant County native.
“The party of George W. Bush and Kay Bailey Hutchison is unrecognizable,” Angle said. “It’s gone.”
“Betsy Price was defeated 2-to-1 outside of Fort Worth,” Angle said.
O’Hare, who touted his ultra-conservative values throughout the campaign, railing about Critical Race Theory and “wokeness,” brought a history of support for discriminatory policies to his campaign.
While serving as a council member in Farmers Branch from 2005 to 2008 and as mayor of that city from 2008 to 2011, O’Hare made national headlines for his efforts to ban landlords from renting to undocumented immigrants, make English the official language of Farmers Branch and stop funding programs serving children of undocumented immigrants in the community with a large Latino population.
The ordinance resulted in numerous lawsuits and was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, according to The Dallas Morning News. The legal battle cost the city about $6.6 million in legal fees, according to the newspaper.
Since moving to Southlake and being elected Republican Party chair in 2016, O’Hare led the battle over Critical Race Theory (a college academic concept focused on systemic racism and not taught in kindergarten through 12th grade) in Southlake’s Carroll Independent School District.
O’Hare formed the Southlake Families PAC to fight a diversity plan that was created amid complaints of racist comments and behavior by white students targeted to students of color.
“I formed Southlake Families and hired a Fort Worth attorney to sue the school district to stop their Marxist/socialist plan. Southlake Families shined a light on the anti-American, extremely liberal, and unlawful agenda of the then-current administration,” O’Hare told the Dallas Morning News.
O’Hare’s group won the lawsuit and helped elect three ultra-conservative school board members.
During the primary campaign, O’Hare also called for moderate Republicans like Price and current County Judge Glen Whitley to retire from politics and step aside.
In other high profile Republican races, Phil Sorrells and Matt Krause will square off in a Republican runoff for district attorney after Sorrells failed to capture 50 percent of the vote.
Manny Ramirez defeated Joe D. “Jody” Johnson and Larry Dale Carpenter Jr. for the Republican nomination for County Commissioner Precinct 4.
Tarrant County election results were delayed until Wednesday morning due to a snafu with voting county equipment. Also, several polling sites opened late due to a shortage of election judges but all sites eventually opened.
Visit Tarrant County Elections for full Republican and Democratic election results.