Battleground 2020Elections 2020FederalIssuesBattleground 2020: Incumbent Kay Granger Facing Competitive Primary from Chris Putnam

The competition for 23-year incumbent Kay Granger’s congressional seat is intensifying as primary challenger Chris Putnam gains momentum.
November 19, 2019

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The race for Texas’ 12th Congressional District is heating up as former Colleyville city councilman Chris Putnam gains momentum in his primary challenge against long-time incumbent Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12). 

After announcing his candidacy in September, Putnam raised $100,000 in the first 36 hours. He then went on to raise more than $500,000 in the first six days.

As a lifelong Tarrant County resident with many years of private sector work experience, Putnam is embracing his image as a political outsider and trying to draw a contrast with long-time politicians like Granger, whom Putnam says has “gone Washington.”

“Career politicians like Kay Granger have forgotten where they came from,” Putnam said when announcing his candidacy. 

As the most senior female GOP member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Granger is currently seeking her 13th term in Congress. Before her election in 1996, she served as the first female mayor of Fort Worth in 1995 and as members of both the Fort Worth zoning commission and the Fort Worth City Council. 

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As a 23-year incumbent, Granger currently sits as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, where she is known for her involvement with issues of national defense and military affairs.

In the past, she has received opposition from some members of her Republican base for what is seen by some as a more moderate or even left-leaning approach to issues, like spending, taxes, and her self-identification years ago as a “pro-choice Republican.”

Recently, Granger has found herself embroiled in further controversy over the Panther Island economic redevelopment project headed by her son, J.D. Granger, in Fort Worth. 

With an additional $400 million needed to complete the project, Granger’s role as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee has raised questions from some critics about a potential conflict of interest, as the representative could be in a position to secure additional federal funding for the project. 

Granger is already credited with garnering $60 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the work of re-channeling the Trinity River, instituting flood protection measures, and constructing an entertainment district along the water. 

Though Putnam has less political experience compared to Granger’s 23 years as a Texas representative, Putnam did successfully defeat a three-term incumbent when elected to serve as a Colleyville city councilman. 

Advocating for tax reform, border security, cutting government spending, and reducing the national debt, Putnam is using his position as a Washington outsider to try to cultivate and build his grassroots support. 

“In Kay Granger’s 23 years in Congress, the national debt has more than quadrupled to now over $23 trillion dollars. The career politicians like Ms. Granger have proven that they have zero interest in restoring fiscal sanity to Washington D.C. and our federal budgets. I will,” Putnam said via Twitter

Putnam has also been quick to appeal to his Republican base by juxtaposing himself against the more moderate Granger and emphasizing his support for President Trump. 

Granger, however, has also made an effort to appeal to conservatives and show her support for the president. Recently, she tweeted a picture of herself at a World Series game alongside President Trump, whom she said she was “honored to be the guest of.”

When looking at FEC filings, Granger reported nearly $283,000 in contributions during the third quarter with a cash-on-hand value of nearly $563,000.

By comparison, Putnam raised nearly $206,000 in contributions with just over $448,000 cash on hand. 

Two Democratic challengers, Lisa Welch and Al Woolum, have also announced their candidacy, though the district strongly identifies as Republican with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of R+18. 

Located in North Texas, the 12th Congressional District encompasses the western half of Tarrant County, stretching across Parker County and into parts of Wise County to include prominent cities like Fort Worth and Weatherford.

The economically robust district is also home to four Fortune 500 company headquarters, including AMR Corp, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., D.R. Horton, Inc., and RadioShack, while also housing major companies like Lockheed Martin Corp., XTO Energy, and First Cash.



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Sarah McConnell, Reporter for The Texan

Sarah McConnell

Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.