The 2014 race for Texas Senate District 10 is already exciting, likely due to the intense debate over the recent bill passed in the state legislature that bans abortion past 20 weeks and requires abortion clinics to have the same standards of care as other ambulatory surgery centers.
State Sen. Wendy Davis (D) was said to have become a “rising star” as a result of her “pink-sneakered” filibuster of the legislation. But will she be able to hold onto her seat if she continues her campaign for re-election?
Hoping to unseat Davis, thus far, are two Republicans, former state Rep. Mark Shelton, who lost to Davis by a slim margin last year, and Konni Burton, a conservative, grass-roots activist who has been a longtime leader within the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party.
In an interview with Breitbart News, Burton reflected on the race ahead of her, and why the GOP should have won Davis’ seat even last year.
“I’m a grass roots conservative activist,” said Burton. “The race between Shelton and Davis last year was more of a moderate Republican against a very liberal Democrat in a pretty conservative county.”
District 10 includes Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, Colleyville, and other areas of south and northeast Tarrant County.
“Shelton was trying to win by looking for things like ethics violations in Davis, but not focusing on her very liberal record,” Burton explains. “His campaign ads were poor.”
Nevertheless, Burton says she supported Shelton at the time, all the while thinking that he wasn’t conservative enough.
While she was actively looking for a candidate to run against Davis in 2014, Burton states she was approached by others, including state representatives and other grass-roots conservatives, who asked her to consider running for office.
“I have always been a grass-roots activist, but I’m now running against Shelton,” she states. “I never got into this to run for office, but here I am.”
Looking back over the abortion bill controversy in Texas, Burton describes Davis’ filibuster as “a gift to me.”
Though she states that the vote on the abortion restrictions “should have happened in the regular session, or certainly the first special session,” Burton says that the filibuster and the ensuing mob drowning out the vote, drew more attention to her own campaign.
“I’ve been getting lots of support from conservative social media,” Burton states. “It’s very humbling to get so much support from conservatives.”
Nevertheless, Burton steadies herself with caution.
“I’m not taking Texas being red for granted,” she says. “Urban cities have potential for liberals and moderate Republicans to take over. But, overall, Texas is a conservative state.”
Burton states that, at the outset of her conservative activism, she focused on fiscal issues.
“I am a fiscal conservative – that’s what got me into politics and into this race,” she explains. “The country is $17 trillion in debt and our state government has too many politicians going down the same path as D.C. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing.”
With a foundation of fiscal conservatism on which to stand, Burton adds, “But if Wendy Davis wants to make this about life, let her bring it. I’m pro-life and on the side of life.”
Turning her attention to the intensity of the abortion debate, Burton says, “It’s just fundamental and basic to me – life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. You can’t have liberty and happiness if you don’t have life.”
Asserting that the first duty of government is to protect innocent life, Burton states, “It just boils down to that. If we don’t fight for that, first and foremost, the other things don’t matter.”
Burton is also focusing on the issue of parental choice in education during her campaign.
“We need to get the focus back on parents and kids,” she stresses.
Burton bemoans the amount of money that has been spent on education with not much to show for it. Though she describes herself as “very pro-homeschooling,” Burton believes parents who choose traditional academic settings for their children’s education should have more choice. She also believes teachers should be permitted to teach without getting bogged down with mandates.
Burton views Gov. Perry’s recent announcement that he will not seek another term as a positive and even exciting prospect.
“I don’t like politicians in office for too long,” says Burton. “I welcome new, fresh perspectives- that fresh look.”
According to state Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R), Burton is someone who can provide a fresh, conservative perspective.
“Konni Burton is one of the strongest conservative leaders in Tarrant County,” Stickland told the Star-Telegram. “She’s a fiscal and social conservative who can articulate our values in a way very few can.”