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O’Rourke’s Hopes in Texas Run Through GOP’s Last Urban Stronghold

  • Tarrant County is the most Republican of large US counties
  • But as population swells, it has grown more Democratic
Beto O’Rourke, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Texas, speaks during a primary election night event in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 1, 2022.
Beto O’Rourke, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Texas, speaks during a primary election night event in Fort Worth, Texas, on March 1, 2022.Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg

Beto O’Rourke’s best hope for becoming Texas’s first Democratic governor in almost three decades runs through a county where ultra-conservatives are remaking education with book bans and limits on teaching about racism.

Welcome to the changing terrain of Tarrant County, home of Fort Worth and a Republican stronghold for decades that has been slowly morphing into a place where Democrats can be competitive. Transplants from liberal bastions like Los Angeles and Chicago are now arriving to the county of 2.1 million people in big enough numbers to make a difference, and some locals who used to vote GOP say they’re increasingly uncomfortable with the culture-war rhetoric.