FORT WORTH — The Texas gubernatorial race kicked into high gear Saturday as Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott and Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis formally filed for slots on next year’s primary ballots.While statewide contenders filed in Austin, more than two dozen candidates in Tarrant County turned in paperwork and fees at Democratic and Republican party headquarters to join March 4 primaries for posts ranging from U.S. senator to governor to county commissioner. Abbott told supporters who went block-walking for him that it’s important to keep Republican leadership in the Governor’s Mansion. “The state of Texas is going to stay as red as the shirt I’m wearing today. We can tell Democrats to ‘Come and Take It,’” he posted on Twitter. “I am prepared to roll to victory.”Davis, who filed earlier in the day, said it’s time for change.“I’m running for governor because I believe all Texans should have a voice in their future and a place in Texas’ future,” said Davis, of Fort Worth, who gained national fame this year for a more than 11-hour filibuster that temporarily delayed passage of a comprehensive abortion bill. “Today is the official start of that journey — a journey that means so much more than filing paperwork.”The gubernatorial race started taking shape earlier this year, soon after Republican Gov. Rick Perry announced that he would not seek another term. A recent poll by the University of Texas and The Texas Tribune showed Abbott with a 6-point lead over Davis.Two other Republicans have jumped in as well — Miriam Martinez and Lisa Fritsch — and one other Democrat, Reynaldo “Ray” Madrigal, according to listings with the state party offices.Senate District 10Neighborhood leader Libby Willis was the first to file at the Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters, jumping into what’s expected to be one of the most watched and most expensive races in the state — the battle for Senate District 10, which Davis has represented for five years.This post is vital to both parties. If Democrats lose it and all other Senate seats stay the same, Republicans will be closer to clinching a supermajority in the chamber, which is key to bringing any legislation they’d like to the floor.Willis, former president of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods, is the daughter-in-law of the late Doyle Willis, who represented Fort Worth in the House and Senate for decades. On Saturday morning, she said her top issues in the race are improving public education, promoting transparency in government and supporting growth of real jobs. And she said she knows this high-profile race won’t be easy.“I am really excited about this,” she said. “I love the opportunity to talk to voters … and share with them strong Democratic values.“If it’s a tough race, it’s a tough race.”She will face at least one challenger in the Democratic primary. Mike Martinez, a local energy executive, filed later in the day.Many had speculated that Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns would run, but he has said he’s out of the race. Other Democrats mentioned as possibilities include former Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks and former state Rep. Glenn Lewis. A few Republicans have said they will run for the seat, which their party lost in 2008 when Davis wrested it from Sen. Kim Brimer of Arlington, but former state Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth was the first to file for it.Shelton, a pediatrician, went head-to-head with Davis for the post in 2012, losing by less than 3 percentage points. Other Republicans who have said they will run include Konni Burton of Colleyville, Arlington school Trustee Tony Pompa, Colleyville chiropractor Jon Schweitzer and Mark Skinner of Colleyville. First filersWhile Willis was first at the Democratic headquarters, three local officials — state Rep. Diane Patrick of Arlington, state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione of Southlake and Tarrant County District Clerk Tom Wilder — were first in line at the Tarrant County Republican Party headquarters after filing began at 2 p.m.“I wanted to make sure people know how committed I am to the district,” Capriglione said.Patrick agreed. “I’m very excited about filing for re-election,” she said. “I wanted to indicate that by being first to file.”Longtime official Wilder said he traditionally files for office on the first day, “so nobody gets any ideas that I won’t be running.”Saturday was the first day party offices were allowed to accept filings. Those running in districts entirely in Tarrant County filed at party headquarters in Fort Worth. Candidates in districts that cover more than one county must file with state party headquarters in Austin.The filing period runs through Dec. 9 for dozens of federal, state and local posts. Politicians may register by paying a filing fee or turning in a petition of people who support their bid. Other filingsOther first-day filings include: Statewide offices: Republican state Sen. Ken Paxton of McKinney and Republican Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman filed for attorney general. Democrat John F. Cook filed for land commissioner. Republican J. Allen Carnes filed for agriculture commissioner. U.S. representative, District 12: Republican Kay Granger filed for re-election. Democrat Mark Greene was the first to file with his party in Austin. U.S. representative, District 26: Republican Michael Burgess filed for re-election. State Board of Education: Republican Lady Theresa Thombs filed for District 11.Texas Legislature House District 90: Democrat Lon Burnam filed for re-election. House District 91: Republican Stephanie Klick filed for re-election. House District 92: Republican Jonathan Stickland filed for re-election. Republican challenger Andy Cargile also filed. House District 93: Republican Matt Krause filed for re-election. House District 94: Patrick filed for re-election. House District 95: Democrat Nicole Collier filed for re-election. House District 96: Republican Bill Zedler filed for re-election. House District 98: Capriglione filed for re-election. House District 101: Democrat Chris Turner filed for re-election.Other local races County clerk: Republican Mary Louise Garcia filed for re-election. District attorney: Republicans Kathy Lowthorp, George Mackey and Sharen Wilson filed for the seat being vacated by Joe Shannon. District clerk: Wilder filed for re-election. Tarrant County commissioner: Republican J.D. Johnson filed for re-election to Precinct 4. Republican H. Suzanne Kelley filed for Precinct 2. 233rd District Court: Republican Bill Harris filed for re-election. 236th District Court: Republican Tom Lowe filed for re-election. 297th District Court: Democrat Gwinda Burns filed. 323rd District Court: Republican Tim Menikos filed. County Criminal Court No. 3: Republican Bob McCoy filed. Justice of the peace, Precinct 1: Republican Ralph Swearingin Jr. filed for re-election. Justice of the peace, Precinct 2: Republican Barbara Nash filed. Party chair: Republican Jennifer Hall filed for re-election.
Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley