FORT WORTH — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz put his stamp of approval Wednesday night on Konni Burton — one of the two candidates trying to claim the Republican Party’s nomination in the race to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate.Cruz talked about Burton’s campaign for the state Senate and he likened it to his own bid for the U.S. Senate, which many initially said he couldn’t win.“In the Senate race, when it was impossible, … when we had no money, no endorsements, no support, Konni Burton was there,” Cruz told a crowd of more than 800 gathered for a TakeBackSD10 rally at the Stockyards Station. “Now, that might just tell you she’s a little bit crazy. “But as Texans, we can use a little bit crazy.”This race — the effort to replace Davis, D-Fort Worth, in the Texas Senate — is one of the hottest elections statewide.Burton and former state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, face off May 27 in the Republican Party primary runoff, each seeking the party’s nomination.Burton led a five-way Republican race for the party’s nomination in the March 4 primary election, drawing the largest percentage of votes, 43 percent. Shelton came in second with 35 percent.And she told the crowd gathered for her rally that she’s ready to go to Austin and fight for this community.“We started this campaign almost a year ago with nothing but the desire to get Wendy Davis out of office and turn Senate District 10 back to the conservative principles the people in this room are so concerned about,” said Burton, of Colleyville. But she noted that with two months until the primary runoff election, there is still much work that needs to be done.“Conservatives need to continue to stand up and fight because Ground Zero for making Austin stand up and listen is right here in SD 10,” she said.In the Nov. 4 general election, the winner of the Republican primary runoff will face Democrat Libby Willis, Green Party candidate John Tunmire, and Libertarian Party candidate Gene Lord.Davis, who has represented the district since 2009, isn’t seeking re-election to this post because she decided instead to run for Texas governor.Blueberry in the soupState Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, kicked off the rally, telling the crowd how important it is to elect Burton.He noted that Gov. Rick Perry has described Austin as the blueberry in a bowl of tomato soup that is Texas. “SD 10 is the blueberry of the tomato soup that is Tarrant County,” he said.But he noted that “with a person like Konni Burton in the Senate, we won’t have to fight a lot of the battles we have to fight right now because they will never come up.”Burton has said she will continue to deliver her message through block walking, social media, mailers and TV ads.Shelton, a pediatrician who lost a bid for this seat in 2012 to Davis, has said he is the proven conservative leader in this race and he’s busy gearing up for this next phase of the campaign.He did not return a telephone call or email from the Star-Telegram this week seeking comment about the rally.‘Run, Ted, Run’Cruz skyrocketed to national attention in 2012 after defeating Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a battle for U.S. Senate that turned into a classic Tea Party versus establishment Republican, David versus Goliath fight.He has remained in headlines for constantly criticizing the Obama administration and the healthcare law. And he has become a champion for many tired of government overreach. As he spoke Wednesday night, his speech was periodically interrupted by cries of “Run, Ted, Run,” from the audience.He has been a big draw for Republican candidates during this year’s primary season, although few candidates have been able to tout an actual endorsement from him, as Burton did.Burton may be the first candidate for whom the state’s junior senator has gone on the campaign trail.On Wednesday, both Cruz and his father, Rafael Cruz, called on supporters to put Burton into the Texas Senate.Cruz described Burton as many things: A mother, wife and a lover of liberty and the U.S. Constitution.More than anything, Cruz told the crowd, there are two things they will be able to expect from Burton if she is elected.“She will listen to you … [and] she will tell you the truth,” he said.
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley