Dave Montgomery Austin Correspondent
Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns on Wednesday ruled himself out as a potential candidate for the District 10 state Senate seat now occupied by gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Burns, who had been widely touted as a potential Democratic contender in the race, cited his continued work for Fort Worth and family considerations among his reasons for backing away from the race, according to a press release late Wednesday. “After many weeks of thought and consideration, my next steps became very clear to me,” he said in an email to supporters. “And I want to share with you – my many friends, neighbors and supporters – my decision: Quite simply, the job I most want is the one I already have.”
Davis, who has held the Senate seat since January 2009, announced her entry into the 2014 gubernatorial race in early October. Her second term as a state senator will end in January 2015. Since Davis announced her intentions, Burns said in the email, “I have been blessed with an outpouring of encouragement from so many of you who reached out and asked that I consider running for State Senate District 10. The mere prospect of serving in the Texas Senate is an incredible honor.
“And I am humbled that so many of you have entertained the prospect with me. But in evaluating what I want to do next, I have come to the realization that I have the job I want – to serve the people of Fort Worth and Council District 9.” Burns, who is a friend of Davis and occupies the seat that Davis held during her nine years on the City Council, also said he would “work exhaustively” to support and elect a “credible, qualified” state senator who will “serve in the tradition of Wendy Davis.” “I have spoken with many of you and others I trust and together we’ve mapped a strong potential path to victory for such a race,” Burns said. “Texas needs new leadership in Austin, particularly on issues for which I am passionate like addressing the state’s decades-long neglect of our transportation needs and making sure Texas children have the best environments possible in which to learn and grow.” Burns’ decision opens the door to a potential scramble in the Democratic primary. Former Tarrant County Democratic Chairman Steve Maxwell, who is co-chair of a candidate recruitment committee that was formed when Davis emerged as a potential gubernatorial contender, told the Business Press earlier this month that some potential candidates were waiting to see what Burns would do before making decisions about the race.
Fort Worth attorney Glenn Lewis, a former Democratic state representative, said he is considering entering the race but has not made a decision. Lewis, a partner with Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson LLP, said he was approached by “some of the Democratic Party leadership” in Tarrant County, who asked him to consider the race. “I’m just considering it. I don’t know how seriously,” he told the Business Press, describing a potential race as “a huge undertaking.” “Obviously it is very flattering to at least have somebody who thinks I could do it, but it is something that has to be given careful consideration,” said Lewis, 59, who is chairman of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents. He said he first began considering the race about two weeks ago.
Former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr told the Business Press that he is “not planning on running” for the seat even though “several people” have approached him about a potential race. “I’ve had several people mention it to me but I’m not inclined to pursue that at this time,” he said. “It’s going to be an interesting race. I really don’t know who might come out. There are a lot of good people out there.” Four Republicans were in the race before Davis announced and Republican officials believe the field could widen, raising prospects for a bruising primary. The candidates now in the race are former State Rep. Mark Shelton of Fort Worth, who ran against Davis in 2012; Arlington school board trustee Tony Pompa; Tea Party leader Konni Burton; and businessman Mark Skinner.