Dave Montgomery Austin Correspondent
Konni Burton will pull out the heavy tea party artillery in her run-off campaign for the state Senate when U. S. Sen. Ted Cruz appears in her behalf at a rally next week in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Burton, a North Texas tea party leader, faces former State Rep. Mark Shelton in the May 27 Republican run-off for the District 10 State Senate seat now occupied by Democrat Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, the Democratic nominee for governor. The run-off winner will face Democrat Libby Willis, a Fort Worth neighborhood leader, in the Nov. 4 general election. Davis, who has held the Tarrant County seat for more than five years, said Tuesday that she plans to formally endorse Willis as the candidate she wants to succeed her.
Cruz, a tea party darling who is widely mentioned as a leading Republican contender in the 2016 presidential election, will be the headliner at a “Take Back SD10 Rally” for Burton on March 19, Burton’s campaign announced on Wednesday. Burton, a Colleyville resident making her first political race, actively worked for Cruz in his come-from-behind campaign for the U. S. Senate in 2012 and became one of the few candidates in this year’s races to win a coveted endorsement from the high-profile senator. Burton, who was the top vote-getter in the five-person Republican primary last week, said Cruz’s endorsement played a “huge” role in the outcome of the race.
Burton drew 43 percent of the vote, compared to 35 percent by Shelton, the second-place finisher who was the Republican nominee against Davis in her 2012 re-election candidate. They are heading toward a run-off since no candidate got a majority. In an announcement to supporters, Burton said next week’s rally at Stockyards Station on East Exchange Avenue will launch her run-off campaign. “There’s no doubt the Austin establishment was stunned on Election Night,” Burton said, telling supporters that her “strong, first place finish was one of the many conservative victories” in last week’s GOP primary.
Neither Shelton nor his campaign manager,Granger Talley, could be reached immediately to discuss Shelton’s run-off campaign plans or comment on Cruz’s announced appearance in Burton’s behalf.