U.S. Rep. Kay Granger captured an early decisive lead over challenger Chris Putnam in the fierce battle for the District 12 seat.
Running for a 13th term, Granger faced her most serious primary challenge for the U.S. House seat she won in 1996.
With results slowly being tabulated in Tarrant County, Granger led Putnam 59 percent to 40 percent about 10:30 p.m. She had declared victory in the race about an hour earlier, according to the Texas Tribune.
Besides Tarrant County, the 12 District covers the GOP strongholds of Parker and Wise counties, where Putnam, a conservative activist and former City Council member and Mayor Pro Tem of Colleyville concentrated much of his efforts in the race.
With all precincts reporting in Wise County, Granger prevailed with 54 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Putnam. About 3,300 votes were cast on election day in the largely rural county northwest of Fort Worth.
In Parker County, which is larger than Wise County with a mixture of suburban and rural enclaves, Granger captured 56.5 percent of the vote to Putnam’s 43.4 percent.
The race grew increasingly nasty as Putnam took aim at her voting history and past positions on divisive issues such as abortion in an attempt to portray her as a moderate Republican.
He also accused her of being disloyal to President Donald Trump because she called for Trump to drop of the 2016 presidential race after a video surfaced in which he made lewd remarks about women.
But it was Granger, who earned the endorsement of the president.
Nevertheless, Putnam, who prided himself on being the true conservative in the race and an honest loyalist to Trump’s agenda, had the backing of influential conservative Club for Growth, which financed a media blitz of blistering attacks on Granger.
Granger was able to prevail despite the attacks on perhaps her biggest vulnerability: Panther Island. The $1.17 billion Fort Worth project that will improve flood protection and create expansive economic development opportunities north of downtown Fort Worth is facing financial issues as the project awaits critical federal funding from Trump’s White House.
Putnam’s campaign has characterized the project that Granger champions as an example of a bungled bureaucratic dysfunction rife with “nepotism and corruption.” Granger’s son, J.D., Granger served as an executive director of Panther Island until recently, when he was shuffled into a lesser role.
But as ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, Granger is one of the most powerful women in the House who has a long record of being able to deliver lucrative government contracts for the defense manufacturers in her district.