The Republican runoff race is for the key Senate District (SD) 10 features the long-time northeast Tarrant County grassroots leader Konni Burton as a favored conservative candidate. Burton led a five-way race for the party’s nomination, drawing the largest percentage of votes, 43 percent in the March 4 primary. Her runoff opponent, Mark Shelton, came in second with 35 percent. The two will face-off in the GOP runoff election on May 27.
In February, Breitbart Texas reported that Burton set herself apart from the GOP pack since declaring her run for the state senatorial seat last summer and garnering strong support. She took nearly 50% in a Tarrant County straw poll attended by thousands of area voters. Burton is also bolstered by endorsements from conservative stalwarts including Young Conservatives of Texas, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Pastor Rafael Cruz, and Senator Ted Cruz–who has publicly endorsed candidate Konni. In the March 4th primary, Burton showed a fundraising lead over her Republican rivals in the most recent campaign finance reports.
This commanding lead in the primary was a strong signal both to liberals and to the establishment GOP that the winds of change were blowing towards the grassroots. It may also be a wake-up call to Shelton, who has been described by the Texas Observer as the “more establishment figure.”
Senate District 10 is a fiercely conservative stronghold that has been overrun by the liberal politics and the Austin antics of its current state senator Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), who chose not to run for this office again and is instead challenging Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for Governor in the November election.
When describing the value of Burton campaign, the Texas Observer reported that should Republicans flip the seat, “it also puts them two seats over the margin of 60 percent control.”
Senator Ted Cruz recently said, “Konni will tell you the truth” at the recently Fort Worth-held #TakeBackSD10 rally at which the senator and his father joined a packed house to support Burton’s runoff campaign.
Breitbart Texas spoke with Burton about a few stances on a few issues recently. Almost immediately, she cited Texas infrastructure as it also pertains to her senate district.
Burton said, “Transportation and resource infrastructure is rapidly falling behind where it needs to be across the state. Big cities like Ft. Worth and its surrounding suburbs are suffering with horrible traffic, and are threatened by the ongoing drought.”
She added, “Government is about creating the conditions for citizens to succeed in a cost efficient manner, and then getting out of the way.”
She is a proponent of small government and commented, “I’ve worked with elected officials to promote this philosophy.”
In fairness to her opponent, Shelton, on key issues including infrastructure, Second Amendment, the economy, education, immigration, right to life, and healthcare the two candidates stack up similarly on a few of these issues. However, the biggest difference is in degrees of conservatism.
While the Dallas Morning News said of Shelton when running against Wendy Davis in 2012, “that he has an impeachable career working at a children’s hospital treating patients with H.I.V and other serious ailments.” The same article also established him with middle-of-the-road positions, identifying Shelton as “taking aim at moderate fiscal conservatives.”
Perhaps this lends to Burton dominating “grassroots and conservative endorsements” as the Texas Patriot Statesman reported.
The Shelton campaign provided Breitbart Texas with a statement about Shelton’s past accomplishments which included his service as an election judge, district and state convention delegate and as a Texas state house representative and his work on the appropriations committee. Currently, he is focused on keeping Texas competitive nationally and in the world wide economy.
Shelton also “believes that the Texas economic growth can continue if we keep our taxes low and regulations reasonable.” Shelton is also against a statewide income tax and a massive increase in sales tax. Shelton’s issue points and endorsements are on his site. Burton’s campaign site respectively houses same.
Although Breitbart Texas previously reported on Burton’s supporters, a nod from Senator Cruz has been a vital bump up. Cruz not only fully endorsed Burton but played a key role in election run-off rally. Even the New York Times took note calling Burton “the only non-judicial candidate with an official endorsement” from Cruz.
Burton, admitted excited about having so many key endorsements, has not relied solely on them. She told Breitbart Texas, “It’s about knocking on doors and meeting people face-to-face; that beats television ads and big money. ” Burton explained, “it’s all about the voters.”
Burton’s run-off opponent Shelton and his supporters have criticized her for what they claim is inexperience; but the grassroots leader responded by saying, “As part of the Tea Party Advisory Caucus myself and others spent considerable time down in Austin discussing the issues important to average Texans with Legislators. All too often our elected officials can get to Austin and forget about what the real needs are back home, and instead cut politically expedient or personally lucrative deals.”
She also pointed out that “politicians in Austin, including Representative Shelton, have advocated for using our state’s Rainy Day Fund rather than addressing our problems through the budget. People are tired of business as usual, where Austin acts like Washington D.C. and people talk using political double-speak. (As your state senator) I’m not going to pretend that by using accounting tricks and raiding our savings account means we have a balanced budget, she said, adding ‘the voters aren’t buying it anymore.”
Burton’s role in the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party evolved into a meaty one, originally serving on the Steering Committee. She was then elected to the board as vice president. When Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) formed the Tea Party Caucus prior to the 82nd legislative session, he tapped Burton for the Advisory Committee. The committee was created to meet with the legislators within the caucus with the purpose of holding accountable while also promoting small government and fiscal responsibility.
Senator Patrick is also in a GOP run-off of his own in May against the sitting Lt. Governor David Dewhurst for that post.
Before her own campaign, Burton was a key figure in local organizing events for other now elected conservative state representatives most notably, US senator Cruz.
Burton is very appreciative of the senator and his father’s support.
She told Breitbart Texas “They’re both very generous and concerned about the people of Texas, and not with the political rigmarole in Washington.”
Burton has been particularly touched by the outpouring she’s received from what she calls the “Cruz Crew,” the core grassroots that worked with Senator Cruz from the earliest days of his US senate bid.
With Battleground Texas looming in the background, the stakes in taking back Senate District 10 may be greater and more far reaching than typical politics-as-normal and bring out even the most reluctant to endorse types like TEAParty911.com founder Michael Kinzie came out in support of Burton.
He said, “Konni Burton is a proven conservative fighter. Conservatives in Texas should all be rallying behind Konni Burton’s campaign. We have an opportunity to actually gain ground in a year that Democrats are attempting a resurgence. I’m excited to join so many of other conservative leaders in supporting Konni’s campaign.”
Thus, the biggest difference on issues may come down to those degrees of conservatism and it’s at a pivotal time, in a critical race and with so much at stake regarding Texas’ future. Come the runoff, the winds may well continue to blow towards the fresher faced conservative candidate Burton.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom