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James Riddlesperger a Go-To Source for Local Run-Off Elections

May 21, 2021

A crowded field of candidates resulted in a runoff for local elections, including Fort Worth mayor and the special election for the U.S. House race to replace Ron Wright, who passed away earlier this year.

Political Science Professor Jim Riddlesperger has been a go-to media source in the Wall Street Journal and other publications for political expertise, and he is at it again ahead of the local runoff. Early voting runs through June 1, and Election Day is June 5.

The runoff for Fort Worth mayor will produce another female victor with the exit of Betsy Price after 10 years. Mattie Parker and Deborah Peoples will face off. Riddlesperger said the dynamics in Fort Worth are changing.

“We’re in a transition period in Fort Worth,” he told the Texas Tribune. “Fort Worth has been, up until recently, a city that was Republican-leaning. It was the largest Republican-leaning city in the country. And now twice in the past two elections, it’s flipped twice in significant elections.”

While mayoral and council elections in Fort Worth are non-partisan, Riddlesperger told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the attitude of voters could be changing.

“I think that both the polarization in the country as a whole, and the nationalized politics in the 21st century, have transformed things,” he said. “We are seeing partisan politics creep its way into local politics that Fort Worth has avoided up until the last few years.”

Those comments were picked up by both Yahoo News and WOSF FM in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Riddlesperger told the Fort Worth Report that campaigning in Fort Worth is challenging because of its booming population. 

“The truth is they are going to do their very dead level best to carpet bomb the entire city with communications and particularly with free communications,” he said.

Also on the ballot is the blatantly partisan runoff for the Texas U.S. House race, which is now between two Republicans, Jake Ellzey and Susan Wright. This may leave many Democrats to sit out the runoff, Riddlesperger said.

“Asking which one of the Trump candidates is preferable to the Democrats is a question that answers itself,” he told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Now they face the challenge of distinguishing themselves among Republicans.

He told the Fort Worth Report that “the truth is in terms of their policy preferences, there’s not that much that separates them. I can’t off the top of my head think of an issue where they would be on different sides.”