When Tarrant County narrowly went for President Joe Biden last November, Texas’ third-largest county appeared to have finely dusted its boots of a self-imploding Republican party that has become untethered to reality. More than half of Republicans cling to the false belief that The Former Guy (TFG) is the “true” president and that voter fraud led to Biden’s landslide victory, according to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll.
A reliance on lies and conspiracy theories recently cost the GOP the presidency and two critical Georgia U.S. Senate seats, and a recent poll, commissioned by Axiom Strategies, shows that at least one county judge candidate sees luring in misinformed or willfully ignorant voters as his best chance for upsetting the presumed Republican nominee, former Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price.
The poll and press release came from the campaign team of Tim O’Hare, former Tarrant GOP chair, who announced his candidacy for county judge in May. There is nothing technically judicial about the role, the position that heads our county’s governing body of five elected commissioners. “Judge” is basically just a name.
Judge Glen Whitley recently announced his intention to not seek reelection, possibly as preparation to run for the vacated seat of Sen. Ted Cruz, who is widely expected to seek this country’s top elected position in 2024. (Oh, dear. As loathsome as he is, it will be painful to watch him endure insults to his wife and father again.) Soon after Whitley’s announcement, Price, who publicly made a big to-do about her desire to spend more time with her grandchildren after her mayoral tenure ended, stated her intention to snag the seat.
“A new survey released today shows Betsy Price’s record won’t hold up under scrutiny of Tarrant County voters,” a recent press release from O’Hare’s campaign read.
O’Hare is at least the second local conservative this year to hire Axiom Strategies, the political consulting company founded by Jeff Roe, himself the former senior strategist for Cruz’s failed 2016 presidential campaign. Earlier this year, former city councilmember Brian Byrd hired Axiom for his disastrous mayoral bid that transformed him from a largely respectable councilmember in the eyes of many to a full-on right-wing asshat (“ Mayor Candidate Uses Images of French Riots to Promote ‘Strong Public Safety’ in Fort Worth,” April 2). The false and misleading flyers mailed by Byrd’s campaign, which pandered to racist fearmongering over the supposed dangers of last year’s largely peaceful Black-led protests against police violence, led to a campaign implosion that landed Byrd with a paltry 14.7% of May’s general election votes.
The Axiom press release included questions that polling company Remington Research Group used to query 500 likely 2022 Republican Primary Election voters.
“Betsy Price believes there is systemic racism in Fort Worth and supports anti-police protestors,” one prompting poll question read. “In the midst of the destructive riots that were sweeping across the nation, Betsy met with protestors and told a reporter ‘I don’t want them to lose their enthusiasm now.’ ”
Just over 70% of potential voters polled said they were “less likely” to vote for Price after “learning” the Remington Research Group’s misinformation.
Not so much a racist dog whistle as it is a racist bullhorn, O’Hare’s poll reads like a listicle of false assumptions that are rooted in a perverse desire to return to the days when Black men and women were segregated or enslaved. Black-led protests are necessarily violent, right? The Weekly covered them last year. They were tense but never violent. Unlike, say, an attempt to overthrow the democratically elected federal government in January. It defies comprehension for O’Hare and his ilk to understand that there is a young and emboldened generation who will no longer tolerate the systemic injustices that allowed a white police officer to asphyxiate a Black man in public as his fellow officers looked on.
Most local BLM-aligned protesters would not say that Price supported them, but she did show humanity at a time when the country was standing up to police violence and other forms of inhumanity that have afflicted Black Americans since 1619.
“Equally damaging, when informed that Betsy Price mandated the closure of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged churches to close their doors but allowed abortion providers to keep their doors open, 70% of Tarrant County Republicans were less likely to vote for Betsy Price,” another false and misleading poll question read.
The Axiom poll concludes that Price’s current lead will evaporate when voters learn about her prior record. O’Hare’s misinformation campaign includes a quote from him. Here’s the shortened version: Betsy Price is a radical leftist, and I’m a true conservative/conspiracy-theorist/gun-nut/racist.
The Remington Research Group poll results are an unsettling glimpse into a very real segment of our community, one that, based on their documented polling, places abortion restrictions and facemask paranoia over the lives and livelihoods of often marginalized Black and brown communities.
As Tarrant County’s good ol’ boy club quibbles over who will take this or that seat, the heart and soul of the county is moving on. Fort Worth voters recently elected diverse and youngish city councilmembers, who, by all appearances and for the first time in recent memory, are working in the interest of all Fort Worthians. Mayor Mattie Parker, a Republican, has used her office to call for a trial date to be set for Aaron Dean, the former Fort Worth police officer who shot and killed Atatiana Jefferson, a Black woman, as she played video games with her nephew inside the home she shared with her mother.
The November 2022 elections will decide two commissioner seats (including that of the county judge), Tarrant County’s district attorney, and a slew of state and federal elected positions. Next year’s election offers Tarrant County voters the chance to choose leaders who reflect the county’s diverse communities and to reject the small-minded views of 500 likely Republican Primary Election voters.
This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not necessarily the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will be edited for factuality and clarity.