A big money political battle is underway for the Republican nomination in Texas' 12th U.S. Congressional District in Fort Worth, where incumbent Kay Granger normally coasts to victory.
The former Fort Worth mayor and 12-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives faces challenger Chris Putnam, who enjoys extra support from political action committees with deep-pocketed, out-of-town contributors.
The campaign is shaping up to be a test of which candidate has the strongest conservative credentials.
And you can’t miss the dueling TV commercials.
One, paid for by the Protect Freedom PAC, attacks Granger for being too weak on immigration.
“Kay Granger is part of the problem,” the ad says. It goes on to link Granger with Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Another TV ad, from Granger’s campaign, says she’s tough on immigration and pro-life.
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“That's why she's endorsed by President Trump,” the TV ad says.
Less seen in the commercials has been Granger’s challenger, Putnam, but he smiles for voters in some newer commercials.
“She's generally regarded as one of the more liberal Republicans in the House, and the reason folks are excited is because they finally have a viable alternative,” Putnam said.
The retired technology executive said Granger said in the past that she is a pro-choice Republican.
Granger declined an interview with NBC 5 Monday, but her campaign released a statement.
“I have stood with President Trump to fund the wall, led Republicans in Congress to pass the biggest tax cut in recent history, and helped drive unemployment to record lows. I’ve also fought to defend the 2nd Amendment, protect the unborn, and fund our military,” the statement said.
Another Granger press release said she planned a press conference Tuesday with pro-life leaders who have endorsed her.
“Based on her voting record alone, she is a conservative,” said Bob Ray Sanders, a retired Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist. “There are outside groups that are doing advertising against her, so they want her gone for some reason.”
Putnam said it was because Granger is not conservative enough.
Her campaign questioned his residence. Putnam served on the Colleyville City Council and property records show he owns a large home in Colleyville, which is outside the district.
Putnam said he lives in Fort Worth, near Texas Christian University, where he graduated and currently has two children attending college.
“I have a home in the district,” Putnam said. “This election is in no way about residency.”
Putnam countered that voters should consider Granger’s effort to secure federal funding for the ailing Fort Worth Panther Island project, which has connections to her son.
“We need to get it done and I think the best way to get it done is to remove both the Grangers,” Putnam said.
Sanders said it was unclear if the strong opposition would stick to Granger with voters.
“I’m not sure that it’s working, but it’s going to have an impact on some people," Sanders said. "It’s going to depend on who turns out."
Two candidates are competing in the Democratic primary to face the Republican winner in what has traditionally been a Republican district.
The Democrats are Lockheed Martin employee Danny Anderson and college professor Lisa Welch.