TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — You won’t get far in Tarrant County politics without knowing County Judge Glen Whitley. He’s been in that role since 2007, after having previously served as a County Commissioner since 1997.
Judge Whitley joined the Jasons for our most recent episode of Y’all-itics, his tell-all before he retires from politics at the end of the year.
And the Republican stalwart told us when he votes in November, he plans to back a Democrat for one of Texas’ top jobs.
“The one person who I’ll support statewide that will get me a little in trouble: Mike Collier for Lieutenant Governor,” Judge Whitley said on Y’all-itics. “One, he’s a bean counter like me. He worked for Price Waterhouse. He also worked for Exxon, so he understands the oil business. And I just think he’s someone who understands local control. And that’s what I’m looking for.”
Judge Whitley also recently wrote an op-ed discussing the polarization of our politics and how if more people don’t start voting, extreme candidates on both sides of the aisle will continue to show up on ballots.
The Republican says just look at the last primary election in Tarrant County, where he says only about 6% of registered Democrats and only 10% of registered Republicans voted. So, he says only a small percentage of overall voters are making the choices for who actually appears on a general election ballot. And that, he says, leads to extreme candidates who run to the fringe in order to survive a primary.
Judge Whitley could have left political life quietly. But that’s not Judge Whitley.
“I’ve never dropped the mic and walked away. I am tired of us being so polarized. I’m tired of us being divided when I think America still works from a standpoint of we all want to work together to get something done. And I think that’s why you don’t see people voting. They don’t want to be labeled as a Republican or a Democrat,” he said.
The Republican isn’t even sure he could have survived the primary earlier this year had he not decided to retire.
That race between former Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and former Tarrant County Republican Party chair Tim O’Hare got ugly. And Whitley says he’s not supporting anyone in this race during the general election, not even the Republican.
Judge Whitley says he has received some GOP blowback for his recent takes.
“Let me say this, if we don’t go to a blanket primary, I’ll never be elected again,” he said to laughter.
But Judge Whitley doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s walking away after leading the nation’s 15th largest county for the better part of three decades.
So, what exactly does he plan to do next?
“Nothing. Full time,” said the Judge.
For this episode of Y’all-itics, Judge Whitley joined the Jasons at Acre Distilling Co. where the three sampled whiskeys and talked Texas politics. Hear the entire conversation here: