Rep. Kay Granger (R)
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.
Rep. Kay Granger (R)
Elected: 1996, 7th term.
Born: Jan. 18, 1943, Greenville .
Home: Ft. Worth.
Education: TX Wesleyan Col., B.S. 1965.
Family: Divorced; 3 children.
Elected office: Ft. Worth City Cncl., 1989–91; Ft. Worth mayor, 1991–96.
Professional Career: Teacher, 1965–78; Life Insurance agent, 1978–85; Chmn., Ft. Worth Zoning Comm., 1981–88; Founder & Pres., Kay Granger Insurance Co., Inc., 1985–present.
The congresswoman from the 12th District is Kay Granger, a Republican first elected in 1996. Granger grew up in Fort Worth, graduated from Texas Wesleyan College, and worked as a teacher in North Richland Hills. She raised three children and started her own insurance agency. In 1989, she was elected to the Fort Worth Council, and two years later, was elected as mayor. In 1995, when Rep. Pete Geren, a conservative Democrat who succeeded Wright, announced he would not seek re-election, both Republican and Democratic leaders tried to recruit Granger. She decided to run in the Republican primary. In a three-candidate race, she was attacked as a liberal, partly for her support of abortion rights. But she won with 69% of the vote. Her Democratic opponent was Hugh Parmer, a former Fort Worth mayor and the Democratic nominee against Republican Sen. Phil Gramm in 1990. Parmer attacked Republican cuts in Medicare and the stewardship of Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Granger called for a balanced budget and tax cuts for business, and ran on her record as mayor. Granger won 58%-41%, a stunning victory in Wright’s old district.
|Kay Granger (R)||181,662||(68%)||($1,452,977)|
|Tracey Smith (D)||82,250||(31%)||($16,300)|
|Kay Granger (R)||Unopposed|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (67%), 2004 (72%), 2002 (92%), 2000 (63%), 1998 (62%), 1996 (58%)
In the House, Granger’s voting record has tended to be moderate on cultural issues and more conservative on economic issues. She became a favorite of Republican leaders, although she has split with them on issues such as the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the RU-486 abortion pill and her support for increasing federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. In 2007 and 2008, she was vice-chair of the Republican Conference, where she promoted issues such as retirement planning and reducing the influence of gangs. She stepped down after the 2008 election.
With a seat on the Appropriations Committee, Granger keeps a close eye on local Pentagon spending. She has worked to maintain production of Lockheed Martin planes that are produced in her district. In 2009, Granger became the ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, where her experience with military spending and her interest in human rights are useful.
In response to criticism of the Wright Amendment, which protected Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport from competition from Dallas’ Love Field, Granger worked to create a local regional airport authority to encourage cooperation between DFW and Love. In 2006, she joined others from the Metroplex in repealing the amendment.
Granger has produced some original initiatives. One of her legislative achievements was enactment of tax-free savings accounts for higher education expenses. In 2003, she and Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., proposed a national gynecological cancer detection program. In January 2005, she traveled to Iraq, where she and Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif., conducted a training session for women candidates in their election. In 2007, she helped to create the bipartisan Anti-Terror Caucus.
Granger has been re-elected by wide margins. She is the author of a book, What’s Right About America: Celebrating Our Nation’s Values, published in 2006.