The Texas Senate campaign has come to Arlington with guns up.
In the hometown of opponent Mark Shelton, Colleyville Republican Konni Burton is siding with open-carry activists who want to tote rifles at City Council meetings.
After a week when one council member and an open-carry-backing Texas House candidate called each other “ignorant” and a “drama queen,” Burton praised the armed activists as “trying to educate the community.”
Shelton, her opponent in the May 25 District 10 runoff, and Burton disagreed on whether the council should ban weapons from meetings.
“When you make a space that says there’s no guns allowed, the people who are coming to do harm know that,” Burton said Friday in a conversation to air at 9 a.m. Sunday on WFAA/Channel 8’s Inside Texas Politics.
Shelton said that he supports open carry but that “cities should have some discretion in things like council meetings.”
The conversation came after an acrimonious weeklong debate over open-carry protests.
The anger flared when the City Council voted 9-0 Tuesday to ban weapons at meetings, then continued on Facebook and a blog by north Arlington council member Charlie Parker.
At the meeting, House District 94 candidate Tony Tinderholt had asked the council not to approve a second ordinance restricting the open-carry protesters and other non-city employees from campaigning or exchanging literature in traffic lanes at intersections.
The restriction passed 8-1.
On Facebook, Tinderholt wrote that limiting street activities “sounds a lot like socialism to me!”
According to an account posted by Parker on Saturday morning on blogspot.com, his argument with Tinderholt lasted way into the wee hours and far past any cordiality:
Tinderholt won the District 94 Republican nomination by upsetting a 20-year elected official, state Rep. Diane Patrick.
He and Burton both carried boxes in south and southwest Arlington strongly, even against established local leaders. Besides Shelton, a north Arlington native, school Trustee Tony Pompa also ran for the Republican nomination to succeed state Sen. Wendy Davis.
Burton also bucked Arlington leaders in another question at the WFAA forum, saying she will not support a high-speed rail line from Fort Worth and Arlington to Houston.
Tarrant County leaders lobbied hard for the proposed Dallas-Houston rail line to extend west, and hoped the state will help or coordinate with the privately financed effort.
“The people in my district are not clamoring,” Burton said. “They’re not saying we need high-speed rail.”
Shelton said he’s “real excited” about the project.
For one of them, Arlington might be the end of the line.