Fort Worth June 5 runoff election preview
FORT WORTH, Texas – Fort Worth’s last election featured the highest number of candidates in the city’s history, including 14 people running for mayor.
Based on the sheer numbers, the local political cognoscenti predicted some election campaigns. You were right.
What you need to know
- Six runoff elections will take place on June 5th
- Deborah Peoples and Mattie Parker are the two remaining mayoral candidates of the 14 who ran on May 1st
- Councilors Jungus Jordan and Kelly Allen Gray are the only incumbents still fighting for their seats
- The early voting starts on May 24th and lasts until June 1st
The June 5 runoff will be led by the Mayor Race, which includes top voter Deborah Peoples, who announced last week that she is stepping down from her position as leader of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, and Mattie Parker, former City Council Chief of Staff and current Mayor, Betsy Price, who is Republican.
Parker is supported by the so-called Fort Worth “Establishment”, which includes the billionaire kingmakers Edward, Lee, Sid and Robert Bass as well as the two youngest mayors.
Although mayoral elections are theoretically impartial, the May 1st race appears to be split right-to-left according to traditional rules. In Fort Worth, as in many other cities in the country, high voter turnout usually favors the Democrats. In big elections like the president or the recent showdown between Senator Ted Cruz and former MP Beto O’Rourke, Fort Worth tends to vote for the Democrat.
Although the county as a whole has typically become Republican – until voters voted for both O’Rourke and President Joe Biden – Mitt Romney is the only Republican presidential candidate to take Fort Worth since George HW Bush in 1988.
A political adviser, involved in an active campaign asking that her name not be included in this story, said the large number of Conservative candidates on May 1 split the Republican vote. Parker, she believes, will benefit most from the drain format. The best shot for the peoples to win was to avoid the runoff altogether.
“Turnout will be the key for the peoples,” said the adviser. “Parker will get it all [former candidate and City Councilman] Brian Byrd’s supporters and the right wing evangelicals who supported them [Steve] Penate. People will almost certainly win [former candidate and City Councilwoman] Ann Zadeh’s constituent, but I don’t know if that will be enough.
“The peoples also count young voters,” she continued. “She did a wonderful job getting them to vote on May 1st, but getting young people to vote twice in two months is a pretty big job.”
The voting races
In addition to the large number of candidates running for office, this election cycle provided a unique opportunity for voters to fill the city council with more newly elected members than incumbents. However, after Council members Gyna Bivens (District 5, Carlos Flores (District 2) and Cary Moon (District 4) win their respective re-election offers, this will not be the case.
Two council members are currently fighting for their seats. Jungus Jordan, who has represented District 6 since 2005, will compete against the community organizer and professor, Jared Williams. Jordan’s campaign came under fire recently after a Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association circulated a flyer omitting a prominent candidate, which included four candidates from previous elections who did not run.
District 7, the area that includes the cultural district, is another hotly contested race. TX Whiskey co-founder Leonard Firestone has approval from Mayor Price and outgoing Alderman Dennis Shingleton. However, Zeb Pent was the top voter in the May 1 election. Pent is best known for going against the Fort Worth School Board to develop a bathroom policy that would allow students to use the bathroom of their self-identified gender. Pent, whose Twitter account is filled with allegations of stolen 2020 elections and other right-wing conspiracies, has become a controversial figure in local politics. Former councilor Lee Henderson, who finished third in the May 1 election, said he now fully supports Firestone.
“Zeb Pent is undoubtedly dangerous to our city,” Henderson said in an open letter he posted on social media. “His lack of Fort Worth values makes him the wrong choice in this race and for public office in general.”
The District 8 race was the closest of all. Reigning Kelly Allen Gray was just below parish leader Christopher Nettles by less than 3% (46% to 43.5%).
The District 9 race was one of the most fascinating of the cycle. The fireworks began when Candidate Darien George was eliminated from the race after unleashing a profanity-laden tirade against another candidate asking him to step out on allegations of abuse by his ex-wife. Shortly thereafter, candidate Erik Richerson was excluded from the election for a previous crime. He was later reinstated, but told Spectrum News 1 that his campaign had been harmed by the insecurity.
The runoff appears to be relatively tame as lawyer and military veteran Elizabeth Beck competes against active member of the Texas Army National Guard, Fernando Peralta. Beck, fresh from an unsuccessful run for the Texas House, carried a sizable war chest from that race. She received 43% of the vote against 12.5% at Peralta.
District 9 will also decide on its school board representative on June 5th. Roxanne Martinez and Cade Lovelace are the two candidates. The seat was vacated by Ashley Paz, who surprised many observers by choosing not to seek re-election.
The early voting starts on May 24th and lasts until June 1st.