Democrats question party allegiance of state Senate candidate, urge him to quit primary

12/18/2013 4:16 PM

12/18/2013 4:17 PM

Five former Tarrant County Democratic Party leaders are asking George Boll — a Fort Worth attorney who is running for the Texas Senate 10 seat being vacated by state Sen. Wendy Davis — to abandon his bid for the party’s nomination.

The former chairs say Boll, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the post, has voted more often than not as a Republican and belongs on the GOP ballot.

Boll, one of the eight candidates seeking this post, admits he has a mixed voting history but said he’s not withdrawing from the race.

“I want strongly for the Democrats to hold this seat in November,” said Boll, 48, a former Colleyville City Council member. “I am not going to step down.

“I think there’s a part of the establishment that views me, and probably rightly so, as an outsider,” he said. “I look forward to getting to know them, earning their trust and respect and convincing them I am the best qualified candidate to win this in the fall.”

That may be a little hard for some local Democratic leaders who believe he shouldn’t be on the ballot — as a Democrat.

“George Boll has a better voting record in Tarrant County Republican primaries than all but one of the Republicans running in their primary for Senate District 10,” former local Democratic Party Chair Steve Maxwell said. “George Boll should have joined them and declared his candidacy in the Republican primary where he belongs.”

This race is expected to be one of the most watched and most expensive races in the state.

This post is vital to both parties. If Democrats lose it and all other Senate seats stay the same, Republicans inch closer to clinching a super majority in the chamber.

Other candidates in the race include Democrats Mike Martinez, a local energy executive, and Libby Willis, longtime neighborhood leader, and Republicans Konni Burton, a Colleyville woman and longtime leader within the Northeast Tarrant Tea Party, Arlington school Trustee Tony Pompa, Colleyville chiropractor Jon Schweitzer, former state Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth and Mark Skinner of Colleyville.

Texas Senate District 10 — which includes Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield, Colleyville and other areas of south and Northeast Tarrant County — has seen demographic changes in recent years that appear to leave the district up for grabs.

Voting record

Local voting records show that Boll has voted in only one Democratic primary since 2000 — the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008. The rest of his votes during that time period were cast in Republican primaries and runoff elections.

Boll said he turned to the Republican elections because he didn’t have real choices in most judicial races on the Democratic Party’s ballot.

“The Republican primaries in our area is where we have a choice in our vote,” he said. “Or we sit and are disenfranchised.

“Voting in those primaries has nothing to do with how I vote in November.”

That reasoning didn’t hold water with some party members.

“As a Tarrant County lawyer who has never voted in the Republican primary, I reject his excuse on political and ethical grounds that he had to vote in the Republican Primary so he could vote for judges,” said Art Brender, a former Tarrant County Democratic Party chair. “These primaries are about a lot more than judgeships.”

Boll said he’s not the first Democrat who has voted in Republican primaries and he likely won’t be the last.

“I’m not going to shirk from my voting history,” he said.

But some Democrats say it puts a big question mark on him as a candidate.

“With a Republican voting record like this, can we really trust George Boll to stand up for Democratic values like giving working families a fair shot, equal rights and women’s health?” asked Betty Fischer, a former Tarrant County Democratic Party chair.

The other two Tarrant County Democratic Party chairs calling for Boll to step down are Evelyn Parmer and Dennis Sheehan.

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