Republicans in Senate 10 head to a runoff; two local state representatives lose

03/04/2014 7:49 PM

03/05/2014 10:37 AM

The battle to replace Wendy Davis in the Texas Senate continues.

As election officials counted ballots in the hotly contested race for the Texas Senate District 10 seat late Tuesday, two candidates rose to the top of the five-way Republican race and are on their way to a May 27 runoff: Konni Burton of Colleyville and former state Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth.

At the same time, two local state representatives — Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, and Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth — were defeated in their re-election bids.

And while the Republicans in Senate District 10 are headed to a runoff, Libby Willis clinched the Democratic Party’s nomination for the same post.

Here’s a look at where the local legislative races stood Wednesday, according to unofficial election results from the Tarrant County Elections Center.

Senate 10

As Davis continues to pursue her bid to become Texas’ next governor, the battle ramps up to fill the local Senate seat she leaves behind.

The high-dollar race for this post has drawn statewide attention because if Democrats lose this race and all other Senate seats stay the same, Republicans would inch closer to claiming a supermajority in the upper chamber.

On Tuesday evening, Burton, a longtime leader in the NE Tarrant Tea Party, took an early lead and held on to it, ultimately claiming 43 percent, less than the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

Shelton, a pediatrician and former state representative who lost a bid for this seat in 2012 to Davis, followed in second place, holding 35 percent, with all 357 precincts reporting tallies.

“I’m excited about this,” Burton said Tuesday night. “This is exactly what we expected. I know the grassroots came out and we’ve got support all over the district. We are going to take this on to the May election and win.”

Shelton’s campaign staff late Tuesday said it was too early to comment on the results.

Tony Pompa, an Arlington school trustee, claimed 12 percent; Mark Skinner, a Colleyville businessman, earned 6 percent; and Jon Schweitzer, a Colleyville chiropractor, had 3 percent.

On the Democratic side of the primary, Willis, a longtime neighborhood leader in Fort Worth, claimed 56 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Mike Martinez, a Fort Worth energy executive, with all the primary votes counted.

“I will need more help going forward to November,” Willis said. “This is the most important Senate race in Texas. It not only is a campaign to keep Senate District 10 on the side of working families, but whether the entire Texas Senate is going to turn on working families. “

This race has become one of the most highly watched races statewide because it is the only Texas Senate race that could go to either party in November, political observers say.

“Of the 16 Senate seats in play this election cycle, SD-10 is the only one where there exists any doubt as to which party will be victorious in November,” Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston, has told the Star-Telegram. “It is the state’s only competitive Senate district.”

House District 90

After trailing for several hours, Burnam pulled ahead in his re-election bid late Tuesday, but then dropped below the 50 percent mark again as the final votes were tallied.

This race, a close battle for a district that includes Como, and some north- and south-side neighborhoods, grew controversial and heated in the days before the election as accusations ramped up about negative attacks.

Challenger Ramon Romero Jr. held on to 51.09 percent, winning by 111 votes, according to incomplete, unofficial reports.

House District 92

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, took a strong and early lead in his re-election bid.

The 30-year-old Tea Party conservative earned nearly 65 percent of the vote to the 35 percent claimed by challenger Andy Cargile, a GOP establishment-supported educator from Hurst, with nearly one-third of Tarrant County’s votes reported.

This race quickly drew the attention of political observers statewide, becoming one of the races to watch, as accusations flew about everything from education to party affiliation to improper Facebook posts.

It became the classic battle of two factions within the Republican Party — the establishment versus Tea Party conservatives.

“I seek reelection to the Texas House because we know this position is more important than just one vote,” Stickland posted on Facebook. “This time in our history demands a representative who will defend life and liberty and fight against the liberal agenda.”

House District 94

State Sen. Diane Patrick, R-Arlington, trailed in election results all of Tuesday night — and final results showed she lost her re-election bid, claiming only 44 percent of the vote.

The tally for her challenger, Tony Tinderholt, a former military man making his first bid for public office, steadily climbed Tuesday night and ultimatley reached 55 percent of the vote.

Tinderholt said he was running for this office because he was worried about “the future of the nation and the future of Texas.”

Patrick, a former schoolteacher and professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, said she was seeking a fifth term in office because she wanted to help address key issues such as water, transportation and education.

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