Republicans in Fort Worth-area congressional runoff clash over who is a true conservative

State Rep. Craig Goldman has an advantage in campaign cash and high-profile endorsements. Businessman John O’Shea says he’s raised a “grassroots army” of volunteers.

WASHINGTON — Fort Worth businessman John O’Shea and state Rep. Craig Goldman identify many of the same conservative goals: secure the country’s borders, cut federal spending, reduce government regulations and protect the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.

But they differ sharply on who has demonstrated dedication to the cause as they compete in the May 28 primary runoff for the 12th Congressional District, which includes western Tarrant County and most of Parker County.

Why This Story Matters
The winner of the GOP primary runoff for the 12th Congressional District, a solidly Republican district in Tarrant and Parker counties, will have an advantage in the November general election.

O’Shea criticizes Goldman for votes he has taken in the Texas House, including his support for impeaching Attorney General Ken Paxton.


“The impeachment of our attorney general was in coordination with the Democrats,” O’Shea said during a debate last month. “There was not a single Republican voter I know of who was calling for the ouster of our attorney general. In fact, he was our ‘America first’ fighter who was pushing back on this unconstitutional government that was infringing upon and encroaching on our rights.”

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Goldman expressed no regrets about his vote to impeach Paxton and stood by what he describes as a strong conservative voting record. He has attacked O’Shea for missing many elections since 2000.

“He didn’t even take the time to show up to vote when it mattered most,” Goldman said.


U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth, has represented the district since 1997 but did not seek reelection.

Goldman and O’Shea were the top two finishers in the March Republican primary, with Goldman receiving 44% and O’Shea 26% of the vote.

Early voting for the runoff is May 20-24. The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Trey Hunt, a homeless housing coordinator, in November.


Political handicappers view the district as likely to remain in Republican control.

Goldman has a significant financial advantage, raising just shy of $1.9 million through the end of March, when he had more than $600,000 in the bank. O’Shea had raised about $300,000 and had $29,000 in the bank.

Goldman has the support of prominent Texas Republicans, including Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker.

Goldman says his endorsements reflect a strong record of legislative success, including a bill allowing murder charges in some fentanyl deaths, “Molly Jane’s Law” that helps identify serial rapists and a measure punishing cities that reduce police budgets.

O’Shea, who has Paxton’s support, describes himself as an outsider devoted to an “America first,” antiestablishment agenda. He has characterized Goldman as a go-along-to-get-along Republican in name only.

O’Shea acknowledges the challenge of mounting an insurgent campaign with less money but touts a “grassroots army” of volunteers.

Aid for Ukraine a major policy difference

One of the starkest contrasts between the two is aid for Ukraine.


O’Shea describes himself as a “hard no” on additional military aid to help the Eastern European nation in its war with Russia and has questioned the United States’ involvement in the conflict.

“We pay more attention to the eastern border of Ukraine than our own southern border,” O’Shea said at the debate.

He has suggested Russia is destined to win the conflict because it can produce more weapons than NATO countries, while Ukraine is running out of soldiers.

Goldman says Russian leader Vladimir Putin wants to gobble up countries the way Nazi Germany did in the 1930s under Adolf Hitler.


“Vladimir Putin is the exact same person,” Goldman said during the debate. “He has taken five provinces already. He wants to take Ukraine, and he’s not going to stop there, because the very next border that he takes will be Poland.”

Poland’s NATO membership means a Russian invasion would obligate the United States to respond by sending troops, he said.

The two have split on ousting House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La.

When U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., recently moved to push Johnson out, most Texans in the House voted to kill the motion. The only Texas Republican to back Greene was U.S. Rep. Chip Roy of Austin.


O’Shea said during an interview with WFAA that he leaned toward ousting Johnson in part because the speaker failed to secure U.S. borders before approving more aid for Ukraine.

Goldman said he would not have voted to remove Johnson because doing so would have destabilized the House.

“All you’re doing is creating chaos,” Goldman said. “All you’re doing is giving Democrats, in my opinion, more power.”

Voting records attacked

Much of the campaign’s back-and-forth has focused on the candidates’ voting records.


O’Shea says Goldman has been insufficiently devoted to conservative causes, citing the Paxton impeachment as a prime example. O’Shea said he’s been friends with Paxton for more than 20 years, but the matter isn’t personal.

“It was an illegal impeachment, and it was one that would make the kangaroo courts of banana republics blush,” O’Shea said during the debate.

Goldman said he based his vote to impeach on whether there was enough evidence to hold a Senate trial.

“Not one time did I ever say Ken Paxton was innocent or guilty,” Goldman said. “We followed the Constitution, and that’s what I’ll do as a United States congressman is follow the Constitution on every single vote.”


During the debate, O’Shea criticized Goldman for opposing an amendment that would have prohibited using grant money for children’s mental health services that affirm a gender identity “inconsistent with the child’s biological sex.” Legislative records, however, show Goldman voted for the amendment.

Goldman has been dinged on scorecards by ultraconservative groups, including a vote to support Dade Phelan for speaker of the Texas House. Only three House members voted against Phelan in January 2023.

Goldman said such scorecards are often designed to boost political allies and cited his support for abortion restrictions, property tax reductions and border security.

During the debate, he touted his support for $18 billion in property tax cuts. O’Shea countered that lawmakers could have cut more.


Goldman said in an interview that a larger property tax reduction would have gone over the spending cap imposed by the Texas Constitution. He said he hoped for additional property tax cuts in the 2025 session.

O’Shea has not held public office, but Goldman has criticized his voting record in elections.

Tarrant County Elections Administration records show O’Shea did not vote in any primary or midterm election there from 2000 to 2020, though he voted in the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2020 general elections and in other elections after 2020.

Missing the 2016 election means O’Shea didn’t vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, Goldman said. O’Shea also missed opportunities to vote for Greg Abbott as governor, Ken Paxton as attorney general and Ted Cruz as U.S. senator, Goldman said.


“I have a long-standing voting history of voting in Republican primaries and general elections,” he said.

O’Shea had agreed to an interview for this story last week but canceled, then stopped responding to phone calls and emails.

O’Shea has offered several responses to critiques of his voting record. He has suggested the apostrophe in his name could have thrown off the records but acknowledged missing the 2016 and 2018 elections.

He also said he was out of the country and dealing with his wife’s debilitating illness.


“There was however about a four and a half year period where I was out of the country, my wife had brain cancer and I was in effect a single parent,” O’Shea said in the WFAA interview. “In my campaign, I say it’s ‘God, family, country’ and it’s in that order.”

Goldman said O’Shea missed elections when he wasn’t traveling and that he could have used mail-in ballots to vote while out of the country.