Tarrant County has been mostly-reliably red when it comes to elections. But the vote in the Senate race is an indication the landscape may be shifting.
Senator Ted Cruz was re-elected, but Beto O'Rourke carried Tarrant County. O'Rourke is the first statewide Democrat to do that since 1994.
Voting patterns in Tarrant County are changing. But how much and how fast? That’s still a matter of debate.
On Wednesday at the Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters, the leadership was excited by results that showed O’Rourke outperforming Cruz, the pickup of a second seat on county commissioner’s court, a justice of the peace seat and by flipping state Senate District 10 from Republican to Democrat.
“We are turning Tarrant County. It’s trending blue,” said Tarrant County Democratic Party Chair Deborah Peoples. “My dream is to be as vividly blue as Dallas, but I think it will take a couple of cycles.”
Former GOP Tarrant County Chairman Tim O’Hare points out that Republicans won countywide races. He thinks O’Rourke’s appeal and his success there amounts to a bump in the road.
“I think they caught lightning in a bottle with Beto. And that’s not easy to repeat,” O’Hare said. “Republicans have to do a better job of messaging and pointing out what’s really going on in the Democratic party. And if they do, Tarrant County will stay red solidly for years to come.”
UTA Political Scientist Allan Saxe says Tarrant County simply reflects a growing national political divide between largely white and rural areas that vote Republican and more diverse urban areas that vote Democrat.
“I call it pink. It’s still red, but not as red as it used to be,” she said. “It’s on the road. What the Republicans need to do is to find a way to appeal to these new and they know that.”
Peoples believes there are some judges who years ago switched to the Republican Party to ensure they kept their seats on the bench. They might be persuaded that it’s time to change back and become Democrats again.