Like Didi and Gogo in Waiting for Godot, protesters waited. And waited. They were on the sidewalk by Blue Mesa Grill in the West 7th corridor on Monday. Like bird watchers, straining for a glimpse of a rose-throated becard, they were eager for that most rare of Fort Worth sightings, the fabled, never-appearing Republican Rep. Kay Granger.
Rumor was she would attend the monthly Cowtown Republican Women’s Club to take part in a candidates’ forum with her primary challenger from the right, former Colleyville councilperson Chris Putnam. Too bad.
Granger was a no-show. No surprise, really. Kay has not held a town hall with her constituents since around the time Donald Trump became president, complaining that some of her constituents are dangerous.
“Do I look dangerous?” asked Lisa Gowan from the Sierra Club contingent protesting Granger’s lack of action on climate change. “I’m a teacher. I’m not dangerous.”
We were told that Granger had to fly back to Washington.
“It’s not surprising,” said Robert Vann, a Fort Worth resident holding a sign with the handwritten message “Kay, Where have all the children gone?”
Vann said he and others sometimes hold their signs near Granger’s Fort Worth office near University Drive.
“It’s kind of hard to do too much when she never does show up to talk to her constituents,” he said. “She doesn’t hold town halls or anything of that nature.”
Among those holding signs was former Texas Rep. Lon Burnam.
“Every one of these people here have tried to get in to see [Granger] and visit with her,” he said. “They are all here because they thought Kay was going to be here.”
Burnam seemed surprised that she cancelled the visit with the Republican Women’s Club. A well-funded opponent is presenting a “very real challenge” to her attempt to win a 13th term.
After March 3, Granger will “either be defeated or be the Republican nominee, and then she’ll be hard to find again,” Burnam said.
Granger’s absence didn’t seem to dampen the mood of the band of protesters that numbered to about 30. Holding signs that addressed such diverse issues as climate change, a possible coming war with Iran, and the separation of families at the border, the protesters enjoyed conversing among themselves and waving at the mostly positive drivers who motored down Carroll Street, honking and shooting thumbs-up signs. Some weren’t so friendly, such as the driver of the pickup truck who gunned his engine loudly and squealed his tires in protest of the protesters, and the occasional thumbs-down sign or obscenity shouted from a few cars. But more than one protester shared with me, with some surprise in their voices, that even in red Tarrant County, a lot of people are no longer afraid to express their resistance. Or, perhaps, as one protester posited, the Trump supporters are not quite as super-confident of their man as they were.
One feisty elderly Republican woman most certainly did not keep a low profile. In her motorized wheelchair, she confronted Ernie Moran, a Fort Worth schoolteacher holding a sign that read, “Close the Camps.”
“Why are y’all out here?” she said. “Democrats have lied for three years. We are trying to solve all these problems you have on your posters, except climate change. We can’t do anything about that. That’s up to God.”
Then after taking a long look at Ernie, she said, wagging a finger at him, “I can tell. You don’t believe in God or anything.”
After that, she exited, puttering toward Blue Mesa’s entrance.
“For the record,” Ernie Moran shared, “I went to a Jesuit high school, and I do believe in God.”
So was all this protest for naught, since Granger hadn’t bothered to show?
“No,” said Thomas Torlincasi, co-organizer of the regular Friday protest in front of Granger’s office. “Upstairs,” he continued, pointing at the second story of the restaurant, “a big group of Republican leadership heard all these cars honking” in support of us and against them.
The protest was organized after a rumor spread that Rep. Kay Granger would attend the Cowtown Republican Women meeting along with Chris Putnam, her Republican primary opponent. A handful of Granger’s dissatisfied constituents gathered to let the former Fort Worth mayor and longtime congresswoman know they don’t appreciate her lack of accessibility or her political party’s direction. We heard about the protest underway and stopped by to check it out. By the time we arrived, the protestors had learned that Granger was not scheduled to appear after all. They stayed anyway and continued waving their signs as traffic passed by on Carroll Street. We went inside the women’s club meeting to ask about Granger and were told she was tentatively scheduled for a February meeting.
After our story was published, Charla Brotherton, president of Cowtown Republican Women, called to express her dismay and ask for a clarification. She said our story, which referred to Granger as a “no show,” made it sound as if the politician had canceled even though she was not set to appear. Also, Brotherton disliked that we quoted an unidentified woman in a wheelchair who chastised one of the protestors. Brotherton said the context made it sound as if the woman belonged to the Cowtown Republican Women. (We did not identify the woman as a member of the group.) Brotherton said her group would never “be ugly” to a protestor.
“They have the First Amendment right to stand out there all day if they want to,” she said. “We were not upset that they were there. Not a single one of our members said one unkind thing to them because we don’t do that. We are in the business of respecting all voters.”