POLITICS: Campaigns

Tea Party favorite poised to steal Wendy Davis' old seat

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Texas,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Wendy Davis,Blake Seitz

State Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrats' great hope in the Texas governor's race, stands to lose her own seat to another woman.

Republican Konni Burton cruised to an easy victory in Tuesday's primary runoff, garnering 60 percent of the vote against her opponent, former state Rep. Mark Shelton.

“Obviously our message of conservative principles is resonating with voters,” Burton told a gathering of supporters after polls had closed.

Burton, whose campaign website describes her “first and foremost” as “a wife, a mom, and a lifelong Christian,” has been active in Tea Party causes, garnering a rare endorsement from Sen. Ted Cruz, whom she helped elect.

Burton is running on a platform that emphasizes fiscal responsibility and school choice. She is also pro-life, in stark contrast to Davis, who rocketed to media fame by filibustering a bill prohibiting late-term abortions. Burton rallied outside the state Capitol in support of Senate Bill 5 at the same time Davis filibustered it in opposition.

Burton will face Democratic nominee Libby Willis in November in Texas Senate District 10, which encompasses Arlington, Colleyville, Fort Worth and Mansfield. The Republican-leaning district has been represented by Davis since 2009.

Davis’s two terms were an aberration for the district, which had elected Republicans in each of the six elections prior to her 2008 upset victory. In that election, Davis narrowly defeated incumbent Kim Brimer thanks to Libertarian Party candidate Richard Cross, who fractured the vote.

When Davis vacated District 10 to run for governor in October, it came into play -- all the more because a Republican redistricting effort painted the district a deeper shade of red. KERA News describes the seat as “pivotal” because a Republican victory would place the party within one vote of a supermajority in the senate. Currently, a 66 percent supermajority in the 31-member chamber is required to bring bills forward for consideration.

A Burton victory in November, coupled with a likely Davis defeat to Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, would be a fitting end to Davis's campaign for governor, which has been marked by mishaps. She trails Abbott by double digits in the latest polls. Sensing disaster, the Democratic Governors Association opted not to include Texas on a list of “target races” for 2014.

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