Connect with us

Published

on


What happens in Tarrant County is closely watched, both inside and outside the state. Once a Republican stronghold, Tarrant has seen its GOP margins decline in recent years — President Joe Biden’s narrow victory there in November marked the first time in over a half-century that a Democratic presidential nominee carried the county. If the county continues to move leftward, it stands to affect the balance of power in statewide elections.

“We’ve never had a race that was this partisan,” said Kenneth Barr, the former Democratic mayor of Fort Worth who led the city from 1996 to 2003. “In Texas, you’re not allowed, for city governments, to hold partisan primaries. And this particular election has moved as far in the partisan direction as any we’ve ever had.”

The runoff features Republican Mattie Parker, a former chief of staff to Price, and Democrat Deborah Peoples, a retired AT&T executive, both of whom insist they are running nonpartisan campaigns.

To some extent, it’s true: Parker declined any GOP endorsements in her general election campaign and Peoples backed away from joint events with the national Democratic groups backing her campaign. Central to the contest are questions related to how Fort Worth will change as the city continues to grow — it’s currently the 12th largest city in the nation. The population influx has increased the need for more city infrastructure, and brought public safety issues into sharper focus for voters in light of a rise in violent crime in 2020.

Yet the county Republican Party continues to make calls and knock doors on Parker’s behalf. And Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott endorsed her on Wednesday, specifically underlining her support for law enforcement — and contrasting it with Peoples’ record.

For her part, Peoples, a former Tarrant County Democratic chair, has been endorsed by a slew of national Democratic groups and prominent state and national Democrats including former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, and Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison.

The Collective PAC — which helps elect Black candidates to office — poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race in an effort to turn out the city’s Black voters in support of Peoples, who would be the city’s first Black mayor.

Republicans worry that Fort Worth’s rapid growth is not only altering the city’s traditional character and politics but moving it in the same direction as the state’s four largest cities — Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin. Those cities typically power Democratic candidates in statewide elections.

“There’s a great concern here that if you end up with a Democrat mayor, it will change what people know Fort Worth to be,” said Rick Barnes, chair of the Tarrant County Republican Party.

The ongoing national debate on race and policing has served to heighten the partisan stakes. Republicans have sought to make the contest in part a referendum on Democratic leadership in other cities across the country. Against the backdrop of ongoing conversations about police funding in Austin and the rest of the country, the topic has become the biggest talking point in the final days.

With a Democratic mayor, Republicans argue, Fort Worth would be more susceptible to the scenes of disorder and violence that occurred in some large U.S. cities last summer.

“We see what Democrats have done more to Austin than Dallas, but those two cities [have] Democrat mayors. And then when you add in Houston and San Antonio, people in Fort Worth are just not accepting of letting their city go in that direction,” said Barnes.

In an interview with the Star-Telegram, Abbott described Peoples’ reform-oriented stance on policing as “along the lines of taking a position of defunding the police.” He and other state Republicans have sought to paint her as an opponent of law enforcement.

While Peoples’ campaign platform calls for reallocation of funds from law enforcement to community policing initiatives, she has eschewed the term “defund the police.”

But her opposition to a taxpayer-funded police budget referendum in 2020 has given Republican critics some ammunition. While a majority of Fort Worth voters passed the Crime Control and Prevention District, a half-penny tax that helps pay for police equipment as well as officers’ presence at special events and in schools, Peoples opposed it, saying that citizens should have more input in how the money is used.

“You can’t deny the fact that she was out there trying to defeat this, that she was on the wrong side of that issue,” said Cary Moon, a Fort Worth city councilmember. “I think that’s probably the larger issue that people see — and they don’t want to defund police.”

Peoples, who has stressed racial inclusion as part of her platform, has referred to herself as a “progressive change-maker.”

“What [Fort Worth] leadership is espousing now does not include the entire population of the city. We’re a minority-majority city,” Peoples said in an interview. “Our biggest issue is ensuring that all of us across the city benefit from this explosive growth that we’re seeing.”

Peoples criticized Parker for accepting the governor’s endorsement, citing the governor’s support of the voting bill put forth by Republicans in the state legislature that would curb access to the ballot for millions of Black, Latino and low income voters.

“This endorsement makes it clear that Mattie Parker will embrace Abbott’s divisiveness as mayor,” she tweeted.

Parker concedes that the pull of national politics has served to intensify the race.

“Some of it’s just what’s happening across the country that seems to translate here, whether it was a problem here or not,” said Parker, who has endorsements from the city police officers’ and firefighters’ unions. “Because Fort Worth grew so fast and we’re now the 12th largest city, sometimes we haven’t always talked about the hard things that a growing city has to talk about.”

Fort Worth’s pattern of voting — it’s elected both Democratic and Republican mayors in recent decades — makes Saturday’s outcome hard to predict. Peoples was the top vote-getter in the May 1 general election but Parker stands to pick up votes from some of the more conservative candidates who were eliminated.

“Anyone who runs for the mayor’s office that tries to run it based on, ‘I’m doing this for Republican or Democrat control’ is going to lose,” said Brian Mayes, a Texas-based media strategist who cut ads for the Parker campaign. “The voters [in Fort Worth] have always just had an independent streak.”



Comments

Politics

Guinea declares end to latest Ebola outbreak

Published

on

By



“I commend the affected communities, the government and people of Guinea, health workers, partners and everyone else whose dedicated efforts made it possible to contain this Ebola outbreak,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“Based on the lessons learned from the 2014–16 outbreak and through rapid, coordinated response efforts, community engagement, effective public health measures and the equitable use of vaccines, Guinea managed to control the outbreak and prevent its spread beyond its borders.” The U.N. said it will continue to provide post-illness care.

The CDC welcomed the news in a statement.

“I commend the government and first responders in Guinea for ending the country’s Ebola outbreak,” said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. “Our heartfelt sympathies are with the people who lost loved ones to this disease. CDC remains committed to supporting survivor programs and helping strengthen global preparedness and response capacities that can prevent or extinguish future Ebola outbreaks.”

Continue Reading

Politics

Hard-line judiciary head wins Iran presidency amid low turnout

Published

on

By



In initial results, former Revolutionary Guard commander Mohsen Rezaei won 3.3 million votes and moderate Abdolnasser Hemmati got 2.4 million, said Jamal Orf, the head of Iran’s Interior Ministry election headquarters. The race’s fourth candidate, Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi, had around 1 million votes, Orf said.

Hemmati offered his congratulations on Instagram to Raisi early Saturday.

“I hope your administration provides causes for pride for the Islamic Republic of Iran, improves the economy and life with comfort and welfare for the great nation of Iran,” he wrote.

On Twitter, Rezaei praised Khamenei and the Iranian people for taking part in the vote.

“God willing, the decisive election of my esteemed brother, Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi, promises the establishment of a strong and popular government to solve the country’s problems,” Rezaei wrote.

The quick concessions, while not unusual in Iran’s previous elections, signaled what semiofficial news agencies inside Iran had been hinting at for hours: That the carefully controlled vote had been a blowout win for Raisi amid the boycott calls.

As night fell Friday, turnout appeared far lower than in Iran’s last presidential election in 2017. At one polling place inside a mosque in central Tehran, a Shiite cleric played soccer with a young boy as most of its workers napped in a courtyard. At another, officials watched videos on their mobile phones as state television blared beside them, offering only tight shots of locations around the country — as opposed to the long, snaking lines of past elections.

Balloting came to a close at 2.a.m. Saturday, after the government extended voting to accommodate what it called “crowding” at several polling places nationwide. Paper ballots, stuffed into large plastic boxes, were to be counted by hand through the night, and authorities said they expected to have initial results and turnout figures Saturday morning at the earliest.

“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders, and the lower participation in Western democracies. After a day of amplifying officials’ attempts to get out the vote, state TV broadcast scenes of jam-packed voting booths in several provinces overnight, seeking to portray a last-minute rush to the polls.

But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Continue Reading

Politics

Apathy greets Iran presidential vote dominated by hard-liner

Published

on

By



“My vote will not change anything in this election, the number of people who are voting for Raisi is huge and Hemmati does not have the necessary skills for this,” said Hediyeh, a 25-year-old woman who gave only her first name while hurrying to a taxi in Haft-e Tir Square after avoiding the polls. “I have no candidate here.”

Iranian state television sought to downplay the turnout, pointing to the Gulf Arab sheikhdoms surrounding it ruled by hereditary leaders and the lower participation in Western democracies. But since the 1979 revolution overthrew the shah, Iran’s theocracy has cited voter turnout as a sign of its legitimacy, beginning with its first referendum that won 98.2% support that simply asked whether or not people wanted an Islamic Republic.

The disqualifications affected reformists and those backing Rouhani, whose administration both reached the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and saw it disintegrate three years later with then-President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal of America from the accord. Former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, also blocked from running, said on social media he’d boycott the vote.

Voter apathy also has been fed by the devastated state of the economy and subdued campaigning amid months of surging coronavirus cases. Poll workers wore gloves and masks, and some wiped down ballot boxes with disinfectants.

If elected, Raisi would be the first serving Iranian president sanctioned by the U.S. government even before entering office over his involvement in the mass execution of political prisoners in 1988, as well as his time as the head of Iran’s internationally criticized judiciary — one of the world’s top executioners.

It also would put hard-liners firmly in control across the government as negotiations in Vienna continue to try to save a tattered deal meant to limit Iran’s nuclear program at a time when Tehran is enriching uranium at its highest levels ever, though it still remains short of weapons-grade levels. Tensions remain high with both the U.S. and Israel, which is believed to have carried out a series of attacks targeting Iranian nuclear sites as well as assassinating the scientist who created its military atomic program decades earlier.

Whoever wins will likely serve two four-year terms and thus could be at the helm at what could be one of the most crucial moments for the country in decades — the death of the 82-year-old Khamenei. Speculation already has begun that Raisi might be a contender for the position, along with Khamenei’s son, Mojtaba.

Khamenei cast the first vote from Tehran, urging the public to “go ahead, choose and vote.”

Raisi, wearing a black turban that identifies him in Shiite tradition as a direct descendant of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, voted from a mosque in southern Tehran. The cleric acknowledged in comments afterward that some may be “so upset that they don’t want to vote.”

“I beg everyone, the lovely youths, and all Iranian men and women speaking in any accent or language from any region and with any political views, to go and vote and cast their ballots,” Raisi said.

But few appeared to heed the call. There are more than 59 million eligible voters in Iran, a nation of over 80 million people. However, the state-linked Iranian Student Polling Agency has estimated a turnout will be just 44%, which would be the lowest since the revolution. Officials gave no turnout figures Friday, though results could come Saturday.

Fears about a low turnout have some warning Iran may be turning away from being an Islamic Republic — a government with elected civilian leadership overseen by a supreme leader from its Shiite clergy — to a country more tightly governed by its supreme leader, who already has final say on all matters of state and oversees its defense and atomic program.

“This is not acceptable,” said former President Mohammad Khatami, a reformist who sought to change the theocracy from the inside during eight years in office. “How would this conform to being a republic or Islamic?”

For his part, Khamenei warned of “foreign plots” seeking to depress turnout in a speech Wednesday. A flyer handed out on the streets of Tehran by hard-liners echoed that and bore the image of Revolutionary Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2020. A polling station was set up by Soleimani’s grave on Friday.

Some voters appeared to echo that call.

“We cannot leave our destiny in the hands of foreigners and let them decide for us and create conditions that will be absolutely harmful for us,” said Tehran voter Shahla Pazouki.

Also hurting a moderate like Hemmati is the public anger aimed at Rouhani over the collapse of the deal, despite ongoing talks in Vienna to revive it. Iran’s already-ailing economy has suffered since, with double-digit inflation and mass unemployment.

“It is useless,” said Ali Hosseini, a 36-year-old unemployed resident in southern Tehran, about voting. “Anyone who wins the election after some time says he cannot solve problem of the economy because of intervention by influential people. He then forgets his promises and we poor people again remain disappointed.”

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Right Wing Uncut by TSD