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O’Hare defeats Price in Tarrant County judge GOP primary

Tim O'Hare, a white man wearing a gray plaid suit, gestures in conversation with two other people in a hotel ballroom.
Miranda Suarez
Tim O'Hare held his primary election night party at a hotel in Southlake on Tuesday. He chose Southlake because he fought against critical race theory in schools there, he said during a speech.

Technical issues prevented votes cast on Election Day in Tarrant County from being counted Tuesday night.

Technical issues prevented votes cast on Election Day in Tarrant County from being counted Tuesday night.

But by early Wednesday morning, former Farmers Branch mayor and conservative activist Tim O’Hare had defeated former Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price in the Republican primary for Tarrant County judge.

O'Hare will face Democrat Deborah Peoples in the November general election. Peoples had an overwhelming lead over opponent Marvin Sutton in early voting.

The county judge is responsible for presiding over the commissioners court, the county’s governing body. The judge is also in charge of disaster response, including response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there were five names on the Republican primary ballot, the focus has been on O’Hare and Price, the candidates with the most name recognition.

O’Hare is the founder of Southlake Families PAC, a group that fought against Southlake Carroll ISD’s diversity and inclusion plan. That battle became the subject of a seven-episode podcast series from NBC, and a point of pride for O’Hare, who held his election night party at a hotel in Southlake.

“It is time for us, right here in Southlake, right here in Tarrant County, to stand up and take back our country and never look back again," O’Hare said.

If he wins the county judge race in November, O’Hare promised to continue to work against critical race theory.

Critical race theory is a decades-old intellectual movement born out of law schools. It teaches that racism is embedded in systems and structures in the U.S., rather than just being the product of individual prejudice. Educators say it’s not taught in the state’s public schools, and that conservatives use it as a euphemism to oppose anything that promotes diversity and equity.

O’Hare told reporters that Democrats use race to “pit people against each other.”

"I think people in general, Tarrant County and across the state and the country, are sick of all this racial division,” he said.

O’Hare also served as mayor and City Council member in Farmers Branch, where he promoted an ordinance banning landlords from renting apartments to undocumented immigrants. A federal court ruled that measure unconstitutional, and the battle cost the city millions of dollars in legal fees.

Republicans in Tarrant County

Betsy Price served as Fort Worth mayor from 2011 to 2021, the longest mayoral tenure in the city’s history. Before that, she was Tarrant County’s tax assessor. Her voters appreciate that history, she said in an interview at her election night party at a restaurant in Fort Worth.

“They wanted an experienced leader, who’s from Tarrant County, works here, lives here, has served here,” she said.

Throughout the campaign, O'Hare has questioned Price’s Republican bona fides, casting himself as the only true conservative in the race.

Price’s response: “I was a Republican when these guys were still in elementary school.”

Betsy Price, a white woman wearing a suit jacket, smiles and holds a drink while chatting with two supporters at a crowded election night party.
Miranda Suarez
Former Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price said she was surprised by the early voting results that put Tim O'Hare in the lead in the Republican primary for Tarrant County Judge. Price wants to replace her supporter Glen Whitley, who has served as county judge for 15 years.

Tarrant County has traditionally been a red county, but some races have swung blue in recent years.

President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump in Tarrant County in 2020, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964. Beto O’Rourke beat Ted Cruz in the Senate race in Tarrant County in 2018, although Cruz still won the Senate seat.

O’Rourke is now the Democratic nominee for Texas governor, and he held his election party in Fort Worth on Tuesday night. His campaign called Tarrant County “the biggest battleground county” in the state.

One of O’Hare’s primary goals as judge will be to solidify Tarrant County’s conservative reputation, he said in an election night speech.

"We are going to absolutely, unequivocally not only keep Tarrant County Republican, but we're going to make it more conservative,” he said. “We're going to make it more Republican every single day. You can count on me working for that every single day."

Dallas County judge race

In Dallas County, Judge Clay Jenkins was winning the Democratic primary by a large margin.

At his victory speech, Jenkins said his efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 helped him win the primary.

Jenkins said he put science above politics and he predicted that will help him win in November.

"I'm following the science and good things happen when you listen to the business community on business and the scientific community on science," he said.

Local business owner Lauren Davis won the Republican primary and will face Jenkins in the November general election. She has opposed mask mandates and said in an interview with Fox that in schools, mandates have "turned educators into enforcers."

This story has been updated with details about Wednesday's vote count.

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Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.
Alejandra Martinez is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). She's covering the impact of COVID-19 on underserved communities and the city of Dallas.