Outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price announces bid for Tarrant County judge seat

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After much speculation, outgoing Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican, announced Thursday she will run for Tarrant County judge.

Her announcement comes days after County Judge Glen Whitley announced he would not seek reelection in 2022. Whitley has been in the seat since 2007 and on the Commissioners Court since 1997.

“With the news of Glen’s retirement, I announce my intent to run for Tarrant County Judge. Not only do I have the fire and passion to continue serving the good people of our county, but my decades of business and public servant experience — both as Tarrant County Tax Assessor and Mayor of Fort Worth — make me an ideal and qualified candidate for this position critical to both our present and future,” Price said in a statement.

She would be the county’s first woman judge.

Price described herself as a “strong, conservative and compassionate leader” who brings people together to get things done. In the coming months, the former mayor will work with elected leaders and county business owners to find innovative solutions that protect taxpayers, make neighborhoods safe and grow our economy with quality jobs, she said in a statement.

She will make a “more formal and official announcement in the coming months” to kick her campaign off. Price served as Fort Worth’s mayor since 2011, and was the Tarrant County tax assessor for 10 years before running for mayor.

Her former chief of staff, Mattie Parker, won the runoff to replace Price on Saturday, defeating Deborah Peoples, outgoing chair of the county Democratic Party.

Price has racked up endorsements from Whitley, Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams, North Richland Hills Mayor Oscar Trevino, former Southlake Mayors John Terrell and Laura Hill, and Republican leader Mona Bailey.

“I enthusiastically endorse Betsy Price as the next County Judge,” said Whitley. “She is smart, hard-working and conservative — the perfect fit for Tarrant County.”

Political experts see Price as a front-runner in the race because of her name recognition, popularity and the experience of running the largest city in the county. She is also running in a county that still favors the Republican Party although Democrats have made progress.

Price’s opponent for the March primary will be Tim O’Hare, the former Tarrant County Republican chairperson, who political experts say represents the current Tarrant GOP. He will have that support, but he is a relatively low-profile figure who would find it hard to compete with Price’s popularity, experts said.

O’Hare has support from Allen West, Republican Party of Texas Chair, Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn, Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder, former Tarrant County Commissioner Andy Nguyen, Tarrant GOP chair Rick Barnes, and a slew of state representatives.

Democrats have not yet identified candidates but political experts say the best shot they have is if Deborah Peoples runs. Peoples has the popularity and name recognition to give Democrats a chance to flip the seat and take control of the court. Peoples has not announced anything.

The general election for Tarrant County Judge will be held on November 8, 2022, with a primary to be held on March 1, 2022.