Texas 12th District
Fort Worth has a fair claim to being the quintessential mid-American city. It sits halfway across the continent, just west of the Balcones Escarpment that divides the dry treeless grazing lands of West Texas from the humid green croplands of East Texas, “where the West begins,” as its 19th century boosters proclaimed, coining the slogan used by the city today. This was the last stop for cattle drives before they returned to Kansas. It is Southern in heritage and Northern in its advanced post-industrial economy. It has the nation’s longest row of Western wear shops and one of the nation’s richest families, the Basses, whose steel skyscrapers dominate the skyline.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
“Cowtown,” as the city is sometimes called, is the 17th largest city in the nation, larger than Boston, Memphis and Baltimore. Fort Worth has a high-tech economy and has been an aviation center since the 1940s, though one hard hit by defense cuts. The big Lockheed Martin (formerly General Dynamics) plant produces numerous bombers and fighter planes for the armed forces. Next door is Carswell Air Force Base, the home of B-52 bombers for years, which was expanded after the base review of 2005. The assembly lines at Bell Helicopter Textron’s nearby plant were rescued when the Texas delegation and others overruled the cancellation of the accident-prone V-22 Osprey. Since then, it won the contract for a new reconnaissance helicopter. The New York Times has called the city “an irresistible combination of cowboys and culture,” in part because it has some of the nation’s premier small museums, including the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, the Kimbell Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Sid Richardson Museum. The city has Texas-sized watering holes and eateries, like Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk, in the Stockyards. Culturally, it tends to be more conservative than large cities in the East. In December 2008, the local Episcopal diocese broke with the national church over the ordination of a gay bishop.
The 12th Congressional District of Texas includes two-thirds of Fort Worth and western suburban Tarrant County, as well as all of Parker and Wise counties to the west and northwest. Approximately 75% of the population is in Tarrant, which has grown an impressive 19% since 2000. The district includes northern and western city neighborhoods and the affluent southwest quarter beyond Texas Christian University, downtown and the Stockyards. Parker County was once windswept open land around the courthouse town of Weatherford, where former U.S. House Speaker Jim Wright, a Democrat, grew up and was first elected to the House in 1954. Today, it is sprouting subdivisions and it grew 23% from 2000 to 2007. Fort Worth and Tarrant County stayed Democratic in the 1950s when Dallas went Republican. With Dallas recently swinging back to Democrats, Fort Worth and Tarrant have remained Republican. The 12th District, which Wright represented until 1989, is now solidly Republican—67% of voters here backed Republican President George W. Bush in 2004 and 63% supported Republican candidate John McCain in 2008.