Longtime U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R–Fort Worth) of the 12th Congressional District won her GOP primary fight Tuesday night with 58 percent of the vote—the smallest margin of victory of all Texas congressional Republicans who faced challengers.
Granger, a 23-year incumbent and former Fort Worth mayor, faced serious questions during her campaign due to her involvement with the $1.2 billion real estate redevelopment project—disguised as flood control—known as Panther Island. The taxpayer-funded project has lagged well behind schedule and exploded in cost while being run by her son, who has a taxpayer-funded salary of $200,000 despite no prior work or educational experience for such a project.
Granger was challenged in the Republican primary by businessman and former Colleyville City Councilman Chris Putnam. Endorsed by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Putnam vowed to reform Washington, D.C. by introducing term limits and bringing sunlight and accountability.
During the campaign, Putnam repeatedly questioned Granger’s position on abortion, since she identified herself as pro-choice in a television interview years ago. He also challenged Granger for her involvement in Panther Island, and for comments she made in 2016 attacking then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Though President Trump endorsed Granger for re-election, his administration did not provide federal tax dollars for continuing Panther Island this year. Instead, $1.5 million will be released for a feasibility study of the project.
When federal lawmakers introduced a provision in 2016 requiring a cost analysis tied to $526 million in federal funds for Panther Island, Granger waged a successful campaign to kill the provision that required the study.
Granger’s margin of victory on Tuesday night was substantial, but much smaller compared to her fellow congressional Texas Republicans. Results from the Texas Secretary of State showed Granger winning with 58 percent of the vote (42,789 votes) over Putnam’s 42 percent (31,130 votes).
The incumbent with the next smallest margin of victory—U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of the 26th Congressional District—won his primary battle with 74 percent of the vote.
After conceding the election on Tuesday night, Putnam offered Granger his support in November.
While Granger manages to keep the Republican Party mantle for the general election in 2020, taxpayers will still have to deal with Panther Island in the near future.