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Democrats Martinez, Willis Enter Senate District 10 Race

After months of speculation, two Democratic candidates have emerged to campaign for the contested Senate District 10 seat Sen. Wendy Davis has vacated to run for governor. Libby Willis and Mike Martinez have officially entered the race.

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the entry of Mike Martinez into the race.

After months of speculation, two Democratic candidates have emerged to campaign for the contested Senate District 10 seat that Sen. Wendy Davis has vacated to run for governor.

Fort Worth community leader Libby Willis and businessman Mike Martinez officially entered the race on Saturday. They will compete to keep the seat under Democratic control in a swing district that tends to lean Republican. Four Republicans have already entered the race and have been campaigning for months.

Willis, the daughter-in-law of former state lawmaker Doyle Willis, is running on a platform focused on public education, job creation and government transparency.

Willis said she wants to bring "neighborhood-level common sense to the Legislature."

"I have worked with people of all political stripes and economic backgrounds to come up with practical solutions for local problems," Willis said in a press release announcing her candidacy.

Willis is the former president of the Fort Worth League of Neighborhoods. She is also the former executive director of the Historic Fort Worth nonprofit, which helps preserve historical landmarks in the city.

Martinez is a founder of Edge Resources, an oil and gas operator in Fort Worth. He filed his candidacy Saturday at the Tarrant County Democratic Party headquarters.

The fight to replace Davis will be one of the most closely watched political races next year. Without Davis’ seat, Democrats will only retain 11 seats in the state Senate, bringing Republicans within one seat of the two-thirds majority needed in the chamber to bring legislation to the floor for a vote.

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, both of them Republicans.

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns had emerged as possible Democratic contender to succeed Davis in the Senate, but he announced last month that he would not enter the race.

Deborah Peoples, the chairwoman of the Tarrant County Democratic Party, has said other Democrats have expressed interest in the race but wouldn’t announce until closer to the opening of filing. 

Other potential candidates could include former state Rep. Glenn Lewis and former Fort Worth City Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks.

Willis said she will work to make government more accessible at the local level.

"People feel that Texas politicos aren't listening to middle class families and working men and women; they're listening to those citizens who can afford to hire a lobbyist," she said. "We need to open up government and get it working again for all folks."

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Politics State government 2014 elections Texas Legislature Wendy Davis