District of Texas
Participate in our weekly roundtable with new Congressional members.
Scrutinize the work of several major Congressional committees in online forums with the chairs and ranking members.
Return to the @ the Capitol Homepage.
"Most people sincerely believe that we are unique here in Fort Worth," Bob Bolen, the mayor of Fort Worth from 1982 through 1991, said. "The saying goes, 'Fort Worth is where the West begins and Dallas is where it peters out.' This city has two distinct aspects, a combination of culture and the cowboy."
Fort Worth, a city that has developed into a thriving arts center in the central United States, is an area proud of its history.
"To understand Fort Worth you need to know its historical roots," Katie Sherrod, a long-time resident of the city and former Fort Worth Star Telegram columnist, said. "It started out as a frontier fort protecting settlers in Dallas. Fort Worth still has a lot of that frontier mind set. They respect and place importance on the individual, but they recognize that they need their neighbors to survive."
"This is a town that was founded on cattle, then oil, then defense," Bud Kennedy, columnist for the Fort Worth Star Telegram, said. "People remember that they have gotten their wealth out of the ground of this area and they are often willing to reinvest locally."
Throughout it's history, Fort Worth has relied on a number of public-private partnerships. When the railroad was first built, for example, it stopped 26 miles to the east of the city. The citizens of Fort Worth finished the remaining section, and the city soon became a major railway hub for the entire region.
But the residents of Fort Worth do not always welcome private investment in the city's infrastructure.
In recent years, some have worred that private investors have begun to wield too much political clout. "For a long time the '7th Street Gang' was the group of downtown businessmen who really ran the town," remembered Mary Palko, a neighborhood activist. "We often felt like these few wealthy families and businesses were the only ones who voted."
The area, much like the rest of Texas, has been shifting more to the GOP over the past few decades, but there is dispute over how Republican Fort Worth is really becoming.
"It is a conservative city, but not in the new more radical way," Sherrod said from Dallas where she works for PBS station KERA. "I think it is a pragmatic, compassionate type of conservatism and that is the kind of person Kay is. That type of conservatism may put her at odds with the leadership of her own party."
Art Brender, chairman of the Tarrant County (the county containing most of Fort Worth) Democratic Party, contends that the district is still a blue collar one.
"This is still a working person's district," Brender said. "A lot of the people here are machinists and factory workers concerned about their own economic future and issues like education. It is still a baseline Democratic district."
Fort Worth plays a key role in shaping the political and socio-economic climate of the 12th district. Eighty percent of the district's population resides in Fort Worth or other parts of Tarrant County.
From Fort Worth, the district stretches to Weatherford, 12 miles to the west. Weatherford is where Jim Wright, former Speaker of the House, began his political career as mayor.
"Weatherford is most affected by the suburban sprawl from the westward spreading Fort Worth suburbs," Kennedy, from the Fort Worth Star Telegram, said. "The Courthouse flipped this last election from being completely Democratic to completely Republican. This reflects the growing influence of the suburbs. These suburban counties were the ones that went most strongly for Kay."
During past decade, the district's economy has shifted away from the defense-based contractors of the Cold War to a more divsified high tech industrial base. This has changed the shape of the voters in the 12th district as well. The voters in the 12th have become, on average, older and more wealthy than they were a decade ago.