Featured Race – Texas Senate District 10 – Wendy Davis vs Dr. Mark Shelton
The race for Senate District 10 in Tarrant County is likely to be one of the most competitive elections in Texas this November. The district, which was a centerpiece of the redistricting debate in the last legislative session and litigation during the interim is now a true “toss-up” district in the court appointed interim maps drawn for the November election. Not only is there an even split among white and minority voters (52.7 % Anglo, 17.9% African American, 24.8% Hispanic, and 4.9% other), the district is also similarly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with a slight advantage for Republicans. Dr. Shelton’s campaign website points out that in 2010, on average, Republican candidates received 57% of the vote and the top Democratic vote getter lost with only 45% of the vote. Given these numbers, it is safe to assume that an election year like 2010 would result in a victory for the challenger, while an election similar to 2008 could be won by either candidate.
Determining what to expect this election is a difficult task. Yes, it is a presidential year and turnout will be much higher than in 2010, which typically favors Democrats. However, the question of whether or not Obama will be able to turn out young voters and minority voters like he did in record fashion in 2008 will likely determine his re-election and also many other competitive races around the country and here in Texas. 60% of these voters who spurred Obama’s presidential victory in 2008 and residually voted to elect Democrats in swing districts did not show up in the polls in 2010 and led to a Republican majority in Congress as well as a supermajority in the Texas House of Representatives and an overwhelming majority in the Texas Senate.
The candidates for Senate District 10 could not be more different. The incumbent, whose election to the Senate in 2008 was one of the biggest upsets in the State, has faced adversity her entire life. At age 14 she began working to help support her single mother and three siblings. At 19, a single mother herself, she began working two jobs to make ends meet, before becoming the first in her family to earn a college degree and going on to the prestigious Harvard Law School. Davis then served 9 years on the Fort Worth City Council before running for her current Senate seat.
The challenger, Dr. Mark Shelton also has a very distinguished career. Dr. Shelton grew up in Arlington, before moving to Waco to pursue his bachelor degree at Baylor University and then moving on to Texas A&M Medical School. In his professional career, Dr. Shelton has worked for over 20 years as a pediatrician at Cook Children’s Hospital. Shelton has been one of the key political figures who has spoken out against ObamaCare and has consistently voted to cut spending and against attempts to raise taxes. He is a conservative voice on the powerful House Appropriations Committee which oversees the state budget and has also been able to parlay his seat on the Public Education Committee to pass legislation to restore local control to school districts.
Ideologically, the two candidates couldn’t be further apart. On party line issues related to women’s health, undocumented immigrants, welfare, and many others, the two are almost guaranteed to split votes. But on all issues relating to the budget is where the two candidates draw their broadest distinction. Dr. Shelton prides himself on a voting record that opposes tax increases, cutting unnecessary spending, while also opposing unfunded mandates on cities, counties, and school districts. Senator Davis believes the Republican leadership in Texas is failing by refusing to adequately fund critical services like public and higher education, health care, and transportation. Senator Davis drew nationwide publicity last session, when she filibustered a public school finance bill that would have left Texas’ public school fund $4 billion in the hole. Despite killing the bill and inciting a special session, about $5.4 billion was cut from education last session.
Although we at the Texan Post believe that the biggest factor in this tight election will be voter turnout among non-traditional voters, campaign funding will also play an integral role. As of their last reports in mid-July, Davis had a commanding lead with $1.1 million cash on hand, while Shelton reported a substantial $301,000. With 10 weeks left until the election, these numbers are sure to change dramatically.
Needless to say, there are many factors in this election that are yet to be decided. The one thing for sure is that this will be a race that any interested Texan should follow closely on election night.