FORT WORTH -- One of the hottest races in Texas this November is local.The fiery showdown between Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Mark Shelton to determine who represents state Senate District 10 for the next four years has become the legislative race to watch statewide.Republicans would like nothing more than to unseat Davis, the Fort Worth senator who has drawn national attention for everything from fighting off attempts to redraw her district to having Molotov cocktails thrown at her district office. Democrats, who consider her a strong player in the Texas Senate and a rising star in the party, want to keep her in office for years."She's considered a statewide candidate and she has star power," said Harvey Kronberg, editor and publisher of the Austin-based Quorum Report, an online political newsletter.But with less than two months until the Nov. 6 election, he added, "a lot of money is going to be spent trying to raise her negatives."Four years ago, Davis, an attorney, unseated longtime Republican state Sen. Kim Brimer, narrowly winning the brutal, high-profile race with less than 50 percent of the vote.After Davis received high marks and Texas Monthly's "Rookie of the Year" title in her first session, the GOP-led Legislature redrew boundaries last year to make District 10 more Republican. Davis fought the plans, and federal officials ordered the district to remain as it was when she was elected. At the end of the 2011 session, Davis staged a filibuster, protesting public education cuts and forcing a special session - drawing criticism from Republicans including Gov. Rick Perry.Her challenger in the more-than-million-dollar race is Shelton, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Cook Children's Medical Center and a two-term House member.He has the staunch support of his party, bills himself as "the doctor we trust, the conservative leader we need" and says Davis is a liberal Democrat out of step with the district.In a race where every vote counts, the candidates are block walking, making phone calls and sending out mailers."This is certainly one of the most watched state races," said Allan Saxe, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington. "This one is and will be a strong political campaign and battle."Davis ousted Brimer from the district in 2008, earning 49.91 percent of the vote to Brimer's 47.52 percent and Libertarian Richard A. Cross' 2.56 percent."Republican senators from the beginning believed that's a Republican seat and her initial election was an aberration," Kronberg said.Shelton's campaign said it's time for voters to send Davis home."Wendy Davis is a liberal Obama Democrat using her public office to enrich her own law practice," said Clayton Stewart, a spokesman for Shelton's campaign. "Davis supports higher taxes, trial lawyers and liberal agendas. Dr. Shelton is for ethics, family values and lower taxes. If voters want ethics, lower taxes, less government and want real doctors, not the government, making their healthcare decisions, they can vote Davis out and elect Dr. Shelton for state Senate."Davis said she wants to go back to Austin to fight for education, healthcare, creating jobs and rebuilding roads, among other priorities."I'm willing to stand up to the Austin political leaders, the lobbyists and all the special interests, even when it is politically difficult," Davis said. "Mark Shelton is very different. He takes his cues from his own partisan leadership in Austin. He's a doctor who turned his back on children and mothers who need healthcare. He has sided with Tea Party activists and ideological extremists instead of mainstream voters."Redistricting impactWhen the Legislature redrew districts last year, it divided Tarrant County, already represented by three senators, into four districts. The map was approved 30-1, with only Davis opposed, saying it would demolish a minority coalition that helped elect her in 2008 - and violate the federal Voting Rights Act.Davis and others asked federal courts to intervene, and after months of political wrangling, federal officials rejected the boundaries, saying District 10 boundaries from 2008 would be used this year."Sen. Davis was instrumental in the redistricting battle in the courts and many Republicans do not like her because of that," Saxe said.Reclaiming the district could make it easier for the GOP to pass its legislative agenda in the Senate.Senate rules require two-thirds of its members, 21 senators, to agree to bring a bill to the floor. Republicans have a clear majority, but if all 12 Democrats unite in opposition for a bill, they can block any measure from a vote."The 12 gives Democrats a little margin of safety," Kronberg said. "It's almost always possible for Republicans to peel one off on some legislation, by promising something they need down the road."State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, mentioned this race during the state GOP convention in Fort Worth this summer. "We will put Senate District 10 ... back in the red column," she said.And Texas Democratic Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa urged Democrats to support Davis' re-election and "allow her to come back as our senator from Fort Worth to take on these mean-spirited ... Republicans next session."Varied supportDavis, a former Fort Worth city councilwoman, has support from community and elected officials including Councilmen Sal Espino, Frank Moss and Joel Burns and Democratic state Sens. Kirk Watson of Austin and Royce West of Dallas.In July, Davis - who, according to a poll by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, has an 8-point lead in the race - reported having nearly $1.1 million on hand for her campaign compared with the more than $300,000 Shelton had in the bank, state reports show.The next report, due Oct. 9, should show a significant increase in donations. July's report showed that Shelton received donations from Houston home builder Bob Perry and his wife, the Texans for Lawsuit Reform Political Action Committee and the Fraser for Texas Senate Campaign. Davis' campaign logged contributions from the Austin-based political action committee Annie's List; Lisa Baron, widow of Fred Baron, a major giver to Texas Democrats and in national politics; and the Chickasaw Nation.Medical groups split between the two: Davis was endorsed by the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, the state's largest physician specialty organization; Shelton received support from TEXPAC, the Texas Medical Association's political action committee.Shelton has the support of a Republican Who's Who list, including U.S. Reps. Kay Granger, Joe Barton and Michael Burgess; state Sens. Nelson and Chris Harris of Arlington; and state Reps. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth and Diane Patrick of Arlington."There's way more Republican money out there than Democratic money," Kronberg said. "The biggest PAC in the state [Texans for Lawsuit Reform] is going to make this one of their battleground races. [Shelton] will have more than enough money to do what he needs to do."Anna M. Tinsley,817-390-7610Twitter: @annatinsley
On the ballot
Local legislative races on the Nov. 6 general election ballot:
Senate District 9: Republican Kelly Hancock, Democrat Pete Martinez and Libertarian Dave "Mac" McElwee are vying to replace retiring Republican Chris Harris.
Senate District 10: Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis is seeking re-election against Republican Mark M. Shelton. This is one of the most watched races in Texas.
Senate District 12: Republican Sen. Jane Nelson is seeking re-election against Libertarian John A. Betz Jr. No Democrat filed for the office.
Senate District 22: Republican Sen. Brian Birdwell is seeking re-election against faces Libertarian Tom Kilbride.
House District 90: Democratic Rep. Lon Burnam, who won a tough primary battle, is unopposed.
House District 91: Republican Rep. Stephanie Klick, who won a tough primary battle, is unopposed to replace Kelly Hancock, who is running for state Senate.
House District 92: Republican Rep. Jonathan Stickland faces Libertarian Sean Fatzinger to replace Todd Smith, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate.
House District 93: Republican Matt Krause, Democrat Shane Hardin and Libertarian Bruce Beckman are vying to replace Rep. Barbara Nash. Krause bested Nash in the Republican primary.
House District 94: Republican Rep. Diane Patrick is seeking re-election against Libertarian David Eyerly.
House District 95: Republican Monte Mitchell faces Democrat Nicole Collier to replace Democratic state Rep. Marc Veasey, who is running for the new 33rd Congressional District.
House District 96: Republican Rep. Bill Zedler is seeking re-election against Libertarian Max W. Koch III.
House District 97: Republican Craig Goldman, Democrat Gary Grassia and Libertarian Rod Wingo are vying to replace Republican state Rep. Mark Shelton, who is seeking to unseat state Sen. Wendy Davis in state Senate District 10.
House District 98: Republican Giovanni Capriglione and Libertarian Michael Goolsby are vying to replace Republican state Rep. Vicki Truitt. Capriglione bested Truitt in the GOP primary.
House District 99: Republican Rep. Charlie Geren is seeking re-election against Democrat Michael McClure and Libertarian Dan Hawkins.
House District 101: Former Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner and Libertarian Carl Nulsen are vying to become the first person to represent this new district.