Results from past elections suggest that longtime Congresswoman Kay Granger’s (R–Fort Worth) low margin of victory last Tuesday—compared to her Texas Republican congressional colleagues—could be a trend and not a one off.
On the March 3, 2020 Republican Primary, Granger, representing the 12th Congressional District, defeated her primary opponent, businessman and former Colleyville City Councilman Chris Putnam, grabbing 58 percent of the vote.
While a substantial margin, this was the lowest margin of victory of any incumbent Texas Republican congressman facing a primary challenger this year. The incumbent with the next smallest margin of victory was U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess of the 26th Congressional District with 74 percent of the vote.
Election records dating back to 2010 from the Texas Secretary of State seem to suggest this a pattern for Granger.
In every general election since 2010, Granger’s margin of victory has steadily been declining in her deeply red Republican district.
Granger had a high of 72 percent in the 2010 general election, and slightly fell in 2012 to 71 percent. She went up slightly above 71 percent in 2014, but then declined to 70 percent in 2016, and then nearly 65 percent in 2018: a seven percent drop from 2010.
The last time Granger had a primary opponent was in 2012, when she handily beat her opponent—Bill Lawrence—with 80 percent of the vote: 22 points higher than her victory against Putnam this year.
Before Lawrence, Granger was primaried by Mike Brasovan and Matthew Kelly in 2010.
She defeated both with close to 70 percent of the vote.
Granger’s margin of victory in the 2020 Republican primary against Putnam was not just the smallest of all incumbent Texas Republican congressmen, but is her smallest of the past 10 years in the Texas Republican Primary.
The declining numbers in the general election could indicate that Granger, a 23-year incumbent, has not accomplished much in growing the Republican brand and winning over new voters in her district. Her questionable commitment to core Republican principles and her involvement with a $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded real estate redevelopment boondoggle—disguised as flood control—may not have helped either.
These numbers bring into question how much longer Granger can considered to be a winning candidate in Texas, particularly since Democrats are focused on turning this state blue in the future.
At least one powerful faction may have considered this as well. Some critics believe the Fort Worth establishment—who largely stayed on the sidelines most of the primary—waited until the final few weeks to help Granger because they wanted her weakened. They did not want Putnam to win because it was unlikely he’d join their “good ol’ boy” network, but Granger has been around so long they wanted to start the process of gently pushing her aside for their next anointed candidate—potentially Fort Worth City Councilman Brian Byrd.
Other critics have claimed the establishment wanted Granger gone this primary, but finally jumped in because—to them—it appeared she was going to win anyway and they didn’t want to have to deal with an angry congresswoman for two years.
The next chapter of the Granger political saga, and how it will affect taxpayers, will no doubt be fascinating.