Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns announced on Wednesday that he will not run to succeed Wendy Davis in the state Senate.
Burns, who replaced Davis on the City Council in 2007, had emerged as a top Democratic contender for the Senate seat after Davis announced her bid for governor earlier this month. But in an email to supporters on Wednesday, first reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Burns said he will not enter the race.
“After many weeks of thought and consideration, my next steps have became very clear to me,” Burns wrote in the email, which he also posted on his Facebook page. “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.”
The fight to replace Davis will be one of the state's most closely watched races next year. Without her seat, which Davis has won twice in a swing district that leans Republican, Democrats would be left with only 11 seats in the Senate, bringing Republicans within one seat of the two-thirds majority needed in the chamber to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.
Four Republicans have already entered the race. Konni Burton, a Tea Party activist, was the first to announce her candidacy. Former state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth, who lost to Davis by about 6,500 votes in 2012, is running again. Tony Pompa, a trustee on the Arlington Independent School District board, and Mark Skinner, who owns a commercial real estate business, are also vying for the seat.
Burns, who had previously said he would consider running for the seat if Davis ran for governor, is a longtime friend of Davis'. His partner of 20 years, J.D. Angle, is a longtime consultant to Davis and is assisting her gubernatorial campaign.
Burns wrote on Wednesday that he would support Angle and the Davis campaign.
"As I have watched him invest untold hours, effort and intellect in recent months to building and running Wendy's campaign for Governor, I know this is his 'something big,'" Burns said. "It is again my time to support him."
Deborah Peoples, the chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, said other Democrats, including a female candidate and a minority candidate, had expressed interest in the race.
Burns said he is committed to helping the eventual Democratic nominee.
“I know a thing or two about following in the footsteps of the brave, smart Ms. Davis, who preceded me as Fort Worth's District 9 Councilmember,” Burns said. “Whoever succeeds Wendy in the Texas Senate has their work cut out for them. And though I am not running, I remain committed to my fellow Senate District 10 residents and will work exhaustively to find, support and elect a credible, qualified next State Senator for Fort Worth and Tarrant County who will serve in the tradition of Wendy Davis.”
With a filing deadline approaching in December, Peoples said other candidates won't likely announce their intentions until then.