Geren-French rematch in Fort Worth an entirely new race this time

February 16, 2018

A legislative rematch in the Fort Worth area is by no means a case of de ja vu.

The 2018 primary race between Bo French and Charlie Geren is in most respects an entirely new race as so much has changed in the political landscape with Texas voters increasingly demanding that House leadership support their values.

French, a Fort Worth businessman, is once again challenging eight-term insider Geren for the Texas House District 99 seat in the Republican Primary. The district consists of northwestern Fort Worth and the rapidly growing areas of Azle, Lake Worth, Saginaw, and White Settlement.

In 2016, around 58 percent of Republican voters handed Geren another two years in the seat. But past performance is no indicator that 2018 will be a repeat with so many developments having taken place since then, including a population increasing by hundreds of new residents per day.

The failures of the Texas House leadership to reflect the will of Texas voters have been well-known since 2009 when Rep. Joe Straus was selected as House Speaker (thanks in large part to Geren having worked with Democrats to secure a liberal Speaker). During the most recent Texas Legislature these failures have become painfully obvious as Geren joined in lockstep with other House leaders to oppose a conservative agenda championed by Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Geren opposed common sense legislation to keep men out of our girls’ bathrooms. He voted against legislation to strengthen the religious freedom rights of Texans. He supported a budget amendment put forward by a Democratic House members to deny parents school choice. He even voted to allow abortion for babies with disabilities.

Voters have seen Geren’s votes (a failing 59% on the Faith & Family Scorecard) and they don’t like them. The decision of Speaker Straus and fellow supporter Byron Cook to not seek re-election indicates growing grassroots frustration with the pro-Straus incumbents – pressure Geren is undoubtedly feeling on the campaign trail in the conservative leaning district.

Even outside of the campaign trail, frustration is building with Geren’s lack of representation. As one example, Geren refused to support or even meet with parents in an uproar over Fort Worth ISD’s dangerous intimate facilities use policy allowing boys into girls’ showers, locker rooms, and restrooms. The parents were ultimately successful in convincing the FWISD to retreat from the radical policy, but in no thanks to Geren.

Greater awareness of the race is also a factor this year. The HD 99 race made headlines following the 2016 election, raising the profile of French’s candidacy. French, a married father of four, sued a political consultant hired by the Geren campaign for allegedly making a fraudulent call to Child Protective Services in the waning days of the 2016 campaign. A CPS worker and a police officer visited the French home investigating anonymous allegations of family violence. It took a month to successfully resolve the situation. Geren has denied involvement in any dirty tricks, although the skepticism has cast a long shadow over his candidacy.

In contrast to the incumbent, French was active in the 2017 Texas Legislature as a citizen and private business owner standing up for Texas values. He even testified to a legislative committee on behalf of SB 6 to keep boys out of girls’ showers, locker rooms, restrooms, and other intimate spaces in public schools and government buildings.

“Even as a citizen, Bo French has proven himself to be a fighter for the values we Texans hold,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values Action. “It’s time for the voters of HD 99 to finally retire Charlie Geren and vote for a tested, dependable conservative who will serve all Texans well.”

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