Fort Worth Democrats are seeking a candidate to run for the Senate seat they expect to be vacated by Wendy Davis, the filibusterer-turned-national star who is considering a bid for governor.
Four Republicans have already jumped into the race for Senate District 10, which was widely believed to lean conservative until Davis eked out a win there.
Davis isn't expected to announce her future plans until late September. But Tarrant County Democratic operatives are busy rounding up the names of potential candidates, hoping they can coalesce around a single contender to replace her and avoid a rough Democratic primary.
Several of them mentioned Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns as a top contender to try to succeed Davis.
“First and foremost, there’s not an opening yet,” Burns said. “It’s something I’ve obviously thought about. What I am doing is talking to people who I think are smart about the prospect."
Burns succeeded Davis on the Fort Worth City Council, winning that seat in a special election after Davis left to run for the Senate in 2008.
“I think one of the things that has made Wendy successful, and is what will make a future Senate District 10 candidate successful, is the ability to forge coalitions and reach out to different communities and different ethnicities,” Burns said. “I think Wendy and I share a lot of things in common.”
Another potential candidate is former Fort Worth City Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks, who lost a Democratic primary race for the newly created 33rd Congressional District last year.
Hicks could not be reached for comment.
The Republican field is already more crowded, with four candidates in the running. The Texas GOP has vied for the swing Senate seat since Davis won it from longtime Republican Sen. Kim Brimer. A GOP victory would push Senate Republicans closer to the two-thirds majority needed to bring any bill to the floor for a vote.
Tea Party Republican Konni Burton announced she would run for the seat in May before Davis and her now-famous filibuster garnered national attention. She initially set her sights on the seat in 2010, when Davis drew a two-year straw for re-election, requiring her to run for re-election in 2012.
“I actively started looking for somebody to run against her,” Burton said during a candidate forum earlier this month. “I talked to a lot of leaders in the Tea Party, the Republican Party, Libertarians. Several people pointed the finger back at me.”
In recent weeks, Burton has announced endorsements from Tea Party and GOP leaders. During a radio show, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz referenced Burton by name, asking the radio host to say hello to “my friend Konni."
Following a loss to Davis by about 6,500 votes in 2012, former state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, is also in the Republican primary race. He said he is focused on the Republican primary and not on who his opponent in the general election might be.
Tony Pompa, a trustee on the Arlington Independent School District board, is the latest candidate. Pompa, who was born in Mexico, was brought to the U.S. by his mother at age 11 and lived as an undocumented immigrant until 1993 when he became a legal resident. Through his marriage to an American, Pompa became a U.S. citizen in 1997.
“I am a unique Republican candidate, and it’s going to take a unique candidate to win this seat in November,” Pompa said in a press release announcing his campaign.
Mark Skinner, who owns a commercial real estate business, is also running as a Republican. Skinner has previously said the GOP needs to be prepared to “fight the best fight” no matter which office Davis decides to run for.