Beverly Powell and Allison Campolo disagree about many things.
But on one point they are united: They want a Democrat to reclaim the Texas Senate District 10 seat this year.
The decision on who is best for that fight — Campolo, a research scientist and teaching associate making her first bid for public office, or Powell, a real estate agent who has served on public school and college boards for years — will be up to voters on March 6.
“Democrats smell an opportunity in this district and are trying to put themselves in a position to win,” said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. “This is a volatile year in politics.”
District 10 is a rarity in Texas, a key political battleground because it’s neither solidly Republican nor Democratic.
That’s why the faceoff in November between the winner of the Democratic primary and state Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, is expected to be a costly, highly-watched race.
Burton, elected in 2014 to this post in a high-dollar race over Democrat Libby Willis, has more than $365,000 in cash on hand — more than both Democrats combined — for the general election fight.
But the two Democrats say this is the year for their party to reclaim this district.
“I’m the best person to do this job because I have been in the public service arena for a really long time,” said Powell, 66, who has served for years both as a trustee for the Burleson school district and Texas Wesleyan University. “My years of public service provides me with a comprehensive understanding of public policy and a clear understanding of the need to collaborate in order to build consensus.
“I’m a tested and trusted leader who has a record of fighting for what matters to our community.”
Campolo, who describes herself as the progressive candidate, believes she can inspire voters to support her in March and November.
“We’re seeing that people are being motivated by people who don’t run as moderates, who run firmly for what they believe in and don’t try to muddy the center,” the 30-year-old said. “Konni Burton will be Konni Burton. She’s not going to (be) moderate.
“I don’t need to (be) moderate either. I think that’s how we can get folks to the polls. ... They are going to go out and vote for folks who inspire them.”
At stake is a four-year term that pays $7,200 annually.
This district, represented by Fort Worth Democrat Wendy Davis from 2009-2015, includes Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield and Colleyville.
Early voting runs from Feb. 20- March 2.
Elected four times to the Burleson school district, Powell, described as a moderate, has picked up support from Wendy Davis, who described her as “a no nonsense, common sense leader with a passion for serving people rather than a political ideology — exactly what we need.”
She also has gained endorsements from groups ranging from U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey of Fort Worth and state Rep. Chris Turner of Grand Prairie to the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.
Powell said she occasionally voted in Republican primaries because in such a red area that’s often the only way “to have a voice at all.” But she stressed she’s voted in Democratic primaries for years and once worked on a campaign for Ann Richards.
She said the main issues include public education reform, access to higher education, local control, economic development and access to healthcare. And if elected, her top priorities would be “education and school finance reform, expanding access to higher education and workforce training opportunities (and) expanding economic development to create good jobs.”
The last campaign finance report shows Powell has nearly $65,000 in cash on hand and no outstanding loans.
Her campaign coffers include $20,000 from Annie’s List, a group that works to elect progressive women in Texas; $2,000 from the Burleson Firefighters Association; $5,000 from the campaign of state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie; and $5,000 from the Fort Worth Renal Group, according to campaign finance records filed by Jan. 15 that reflect donations through the end of 2017.
This is the year, Powell said, that Democrats can reclaim SD 10.
“We are seeing what is characterized across the nation as a blue wave,” she said. “This is a great time to be a Democrat. ... I think we are going to motivate voters to get back to the polls and vote their compassion and conscience.”
Campolo, a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders during the last presidential election, said this is her first bid for public office but it’s not her first foray into politics.
She has volunteered with campaigns since 2002, mainly in Dallas County, which, as she helped, flipped from Republican to Democrat.
She said she knows some people call her “hopelessly liberal.” And that’s fine.
“I think people are ready for a fresh face of the Democratic Party,” she said. “We’ve tried the old ways and they’re just not working for us any more. It’s time to revamp this party with people who are truly dedicated to transparency, working together, and committed to fighting for the things their constituents need.
“People are ready for folks who have life experiences of being a regular, working class American, ready for someone who will be truly devoted to evidence-based legislation, and ready for someone who will always be discerning about the ideas put before them and how those ideas were gathered.”
She said the main issues in this race include the economy, jobs, public healthcare and public education. And, if elected, her top priorities would be “public education, public healthcare, environmental protection (and) campaign finance reform.”
The last campaign finance report shows Campolo has around $4,300 in cash on hand and no outstanding loans.
Contributions to her campaign include $125 from fellow Democratic candidate Nancy Bean of Arlington; $1,000 from the Local Union 745 in Dallas; more than $3,000 in donations to herself; and dozens of donations from people who each gave $5 or less.
“We have spent a very small amount of money in this race so far for such a populous district, and, having reached thousands and thousands of voters personally, we have had an amazing amount of impact,” Campolo said. “Donors and voters deserve a candidate who knows how to be effective while cutting the fat.”