Fort Worth, Arlington are going to need a new state senator

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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kennedy The senator is off and running for governor.

But that election is more than a year away.

Right now, the immediate decision is electing a new state senator.

Four Republicans from Fort Worth, Arlington and Colleyville await a Democratic opponent to succeed Sen. Wendy Davis in District 10, historically among the most watched campaigns in Texas.

One is not your everyday Republican.

“I think I can bring back the conservative women who voted for Wendy last time and win over some Fort Worth voters,” said Arlington school Trustee Tony Pompa, 43, a native of Zitacuaro, Michoacan, who came to Texas at 10 with a new Texan stepfather and found education, business success and the American dream.

In a March 4 field that also includes former nominee Mark Shelton and Colleyville Republicans Konni Burton and Mark Skinner, Pompa landed early support from Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck and businessman Vince Puente of Fort Worth.

“I grew up with traditional values that are very much in line with Republican values,” said Pompa, founder of an Arlington company that now has 200 employees working to assemble merchandise for retail store displays.

“I see a huge lack of entrepreneurs and business owners running for office. I think Austin needs more leaders who know what it’s like to meet a budget and watch your money.”

Barring the emergence of a better-known candidate — and none is on the horizon despite the open seat — Pompa and Shelton appear likely to draw business and religious conservative support.

Burton, a former spokeswoman for a Grapevine-based Tea Party, has published several endorsements but so far none from inside the district.

All four Republicans had planned to challenge Davis. Instead, the nominee will face a different Democrat in November from a field that is expected to include Fort Worth City Council member Joel Burns.

Pompa said he challenged Davis because “I thought the district was underserved.”

Davis’ influence in Austin was limited by her party, he said.

“This was definitely a critical year for education, and we were down there every day working for the Arlington schools,” he said.

“But our senator couldn’t help us. She wasn’t on the committees anymore. She wasn’t really in position to help get things done.”

Shelton, a pediatric specialist and two-term Texas House representative, lost to Davis last year by a thin 6,500-vote margin out of nearly 300,000 cast, saying that was “not the end — it’s just the beginning.”

“I still think I represent this community better than anyone else in the race,” he said Tuesday.

“We’ve never stopped running.”

Only one will be running by next fall.

Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538 Twitter: @BudKennedy

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