Gloves come off in fight between Konni Burton and Beverly Powell for state Senate seat

State Rep. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, and Democrat Beverly Powell face off for the Senate District 10 seat in November.
State Rep. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, and Democrat Beverly Powell face off for the Senate District 10 seat in November. Star-Telegram

The battle is on.

After the polls closed Tuesday night, Republican state Sen. Konni Burton sent out a statement welcoming the Democratic primary winner, Beverly Powell, to the race.

"I want to congratulate my opponent for narrowly defeating a 'self-proclaimed socialist' for the Democratic nomination for Senate District 10," said Burton, R-Colleyville, who was unopposed in the Republican primary. "I will be reaching out to my Democrat opponent in the coming days and weeks to define the terms for future debates.

"She barely defeated a socialist for the Democrat nomination. Now in the general election, will she continue to proudly compare herself to far-left Hillary Clinton or try something new? We'll find out."

Powell, a real estate agent who has served on public school and college boards for years, claimed 62 percent of the vote Tuesday to defeat Allison Campolo.

Now she and Burton will face off in the Nov. 6 general election in what is expected to be a costly, contentious battle.

On Tuesday night, Powell said, “We heard loud and clear from families across Tarrant County who are ready for leadership that puts our schools, good jobs, public safety and economic development ahead of a narrow, inflexible ideology that has taken over our state Capitol. From Day One, our campaign has been focused on returning mainstream sensibilities and commonsense problem-solving to state government so that local families benefit rather than narrow ideologies and special interests.”

Senate District 10 is a rarity in Texas — a district neither solidly Republican nor Democratic that has swung between the two parties for years.

Democrat Wendy Davis of Fort Worth represented the district from 2009 to 2015, after defeating incumbent Republican Kim Brimer, but Democrats lost the seat in 2014 to Burton.

At stake in the race for the district — which includes Fort Worth, Arlington, Mansfield and Colleyville — is a four-year term that pays $7,200 annually.

"The District 10 battle could be interesting," said Jim Riddlesperger, a political science professor at Texas Christian University. "It is a Republican-leaning district, but we are only two cycles removed from Wendy Davis winning the district. As a result, if there is a Democratic wave this year, it could be very interesting."

'Out of touch'

Burton's welcome to her opponent notes that Powell has been endorsed by Davis, "who is most well-known these days for marching with a hat in the shape of female genitalia upon her head."

And she pointed out that Powell has drawn campaign assistance from state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, who Burton said last year opposed measures ranging from property tax reforms to a bill requiring jails to honor federal immigration detainers.

"Now he hopes you'll ignore the issues and send him reinforcements in November," Burton wrote in her statement, adding that Powell is out of touch with the district. "She has expressed support for toll roads, Medicaid expansion that will bankrupt our budget and underfund our schools and roads, and has repeatedly claimed that our public charter schools are covertly re-segregating our community and children.

"When asked about corporate welfare for politically connected businesses she said that government should ‘pick the winners,' which is nothing short of blatant cronyism and tips the scales against the taxpayer."

Burton said she looks forward to debating Powell.

"I am not afraid of my record of fighting for property tax relief, the rights of the unborn, and historic state border and immigration reforms," Burton said. "I've proven that I am an authentic, independent conservative voice for the taxpayer in Austin while my Democrat opponent has repeatedly bragged about being the ‘Hillary’ candidate in this race."

Powell's campaign manager, Garry Jones, responded to Burton's "welcome."

"Konni Burton's statement, crafted and drafted by West Texas donors, conveniently forgot to mention her F rating from the Texas Association of Business, her vote to gut tens of millions from Tarrant County public schools and her belief that your kids shouldn't have seat belts on their school buses," he said.

'It's time'

Elected four times to the Burleson school district, Powell has been described as a moderate. Davis called her “a no-nonsense, commonsense leader with a passion for serving people rather than a political ideology — exactly what we need.”

She has also gained endorsements from U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, the Texas State Teachers Association and the Texas State Association of Fire Fighters.

Powell said she will fight for public schools.

“As a local school board member, I’ve seen firsthand the damage done by state lawmakers who ignore our schools," she said. "I’ve watched politicians such as Konni Burton and Dan Patrick work to dismantle our public schools right here in Tarrant County. Our students deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. Our families deserve better.

"As your next state senator, I will stand up to Dan Patrick, or any politician regardless of political party, who attempts to defund our schools through vouchers.”

She also said she's dedicated to economic development and job creation.

“It’s time for a state senator who works to create an environment where businesses expand and good-paying jobs are produced," Powell said. "It’s time for a senator who believes our families and our state are stronger when we attract new businesses and opportunities to our region. It’s time for a state senator who doesn’t get an F from Texas job creators.”

Anna Tinsley: 817-390-7610, @annatinsley

It's the most competitive Texas Senate race this year and the Star-Telegram editorial board spoke with all the senate district 10 candidates, including the incumbent Konni Burton on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

Join the Star-Telegram Editorial Board live as we question candidates in one of Texas' most competitive legislative races: State Senate District 10. Democrats Beverly Powell, Fort Worth, and Allison Campolo, Euless, will be discussing the issues.