One of Texas’ senior-most federal officials is receiving a primary opponent from her right, a move that sets up one of the first serious, congressional primary challenges the state has seen in years.
On Monday, Chris Putnam, a technology company executive and conservative activist who previously served on the Colleyville City Council, announced his candidacy for Texas’ 12th Congressional District, a seat currently held by Congresswoman Kay Granger of Fort Worth.
Overtaking a longtime incumbent member of the city council in his first campaign, Putnam then led a citizen reform team that succeeded in taking over the city council and implementing major pro-taxpayer initiatives that included ethics reforms and term limits—both of which Putnam had campaigned on.
Now Putnam says he wants to do the same things at the national level.
“I’ve shown what we can do when citizen reformers come together to stand up to career politicians,” Putnam told Texas Scorecard. “Just like President Trump, we need an outsider to bring proven business experience to drain the Washington swamp. I’ve done it in the private sector, I’ve done it in Texas, and now I’m going to do it in Washington D.C.”
Putnam’s opponent, 23-year incumbent Kay Granger, is a liberal Republican who previously held positions on the Fort Worth City Council and served as the city’s mayor before being elected to Congress in 1996.
In D.C., Granger serves as the ranking member on the Appropriations Committee, a coveted position prized for its ability to bring focus and federal investment to a lawmaker’s community.
In Granger’s case, it led to what has long been considered a boondoggle on Panther Island, an economic development project headed by her son, J.D. Granger. A recent programmatic review found—with nearly $400 million being spent thus far on the project for about 15 years—no phase of construction has been completed. It also found that Granger’s son colluded with Jim Oliver, executive director of the Tarrant Regional Water District, to keep board members in the dark. Many in Tarrant County have begun to ask who exactly is benefiting from the arrangement.
But Granger’s problems aren’t limited to Panther Island. She has also long stoked the ire of conservatives for her liberal voting record on life, taxes, and spending. FreedomWorks gives her a lifetime score of a 62 on their scorecard, one of the lowest scores of any Republican in Texas’ delegation.
This congressional session, Granger has performed even worse than before, netting a score of 51—largely through voting with Democrats to undermine conservative efforts and the agenda of President Donald Trump.
“Ms. Granger has gone out of her way to label herself a ‘pro-choice Republican’ and refused to support funding to build the wall across our southern border. That is unacceptable for any legitimate conservative,” says Putnam.
Texans in the 12th Congressional District, which stretches from West Tarrant County into Parker and Wise counties, can expect to hear more from both candidates in the coming weeks. It is largely considered a safe Republican seat for the general election to follow.