Reprinted with permission of Quorum Report.
Prominent names get behind Democrat in race to take on Sen. Burton
President Trump carried SD 10 by the slimmest of margins and Dems argue their candidate has crossover appeal with Republican women and the business community
By James Russell
FORT WORTH ––Tarrant County Democratic leaders made clear that Beverly Powell, a Burleson Independent School District trustee, is their preferred candidate in Senate District 10 at her campaign kickoff this past weekend at Fort Worth’s Texas Wesleyan University.
The seat held by freshman Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, is likely the state’s only swing Senate district.
Local Democratic stalwarts like Congressman Marc Veasey, Texas House Democratic Caucus Chair Chris Turner, D-Arlington, as well as Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks, the county’s only Democratic commissioner, praised Powell’s leadership, including a two-year stint as BISD board president and as a member of the Texas Wesleyan Board.
In her announcement speech, Powell said she is a product of Burleson schools in the area where she raised her family. Her son is the popular Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter.
“In 10 years we have seen our student body grow from 7500 to students to over 12,500 kiddos. We built five new elementary schools and a high school. We’ve preserved resources so we can invest in our children’s future. We’ve lived within our means. At the same time, we’ve been able to provide raises for faculty and staff,” Powell said.
“You might think … it was time for me to step back, take a rest,” Powell said of her final year on the board. “Then I began to see so very clearly what was happening politically across our nation, especially the gridlock and divisiveness emanating from our own state senate seat here in Tarrant County. We are burdened with an incumbent so driven by her extreme, narrow ideology that we she completely ignores common sense in her decision making processes.”
Donors from outside of the district also empower Burton, Powell said.
“She is so dependent on support from outside her district and donors from other parts of the state who share those views. She has become so dependent on them and their money that she has abandoned all concerns about you, your families and your children, what it really takes in this state to build and maintain strong and safe communities or to create vibrant economies that provide for opportunity for kids and for great jobs for our families,” Powell said.
“I think it’s time for us to get a new senator. I think it’s time for us to have a senator who works for your interests and not against them,” Powell said. “Don’t you?”
“We must be fighting every day to make sure all Texans have a great opportunity for a great public school education, no matter their neighborhood or zip code,” Powell said, adding she is also passionate about higher education and workforce training “that will bring companies who will bring good jobs to our community.”
Powell also knocked this past legislative session’s focus on restricting bathroom access by gender, which Sen. Burton supported.
“I believe in equal rights for all. We must always fight to protect equal opportunity to ensure a rich and full life in Texas. Your courage, ability and fortitude matter more than your skin color, or who you know, or where you live, or who you love,” Powell said.
“There is no such thing as standing still. We are either moving forward or losing ground. I promise you under my leadership we will not fall back. We will push forward to bring economic development and great jobs to your communities, the kid of jobs that sustain high quality of life and build healthy, safety cultures for our families and district, in our cities and across this entire state,” Powell said. “We will win Senate District 10 back for all the people of Tarrant County.”
The district leans Republican but is considered a swing seat because of demographics and election results in recent cycles. Democrats believe a combination of factors could swing it their way.
In the 2016 election, Republican President Donald Trump won the district by less than a point, 47.9 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 47.3 percent. That’s in contrast to the rest of reliably Republican Tarrant County, where Trump won 52 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent.
Democrats also took note when an otherwise reliably Republican county commissioner precinct in southeast Tarrant County went 52 percent for Clinton. County Commissioner Andy Nguyen is up for reelection and faces a spirited challenge from Devan Allen, an African-American businesswoman with deep ties to the community.
Democrats also think Powell has crossover appeal, especially among suburban women and the business community, much like former Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democrat who held the seat from 2008 to 2014.
Before the special session, Powell raised $51,000, spent $1,265 and had $31,704 cash on hand. Prominent donors so far include former state Rep. and current Texas Southern University Regent Glenn Lewis, who gave $250, former Fort Worth Mayor Ken Barr who gave $250, Texas Wesleyan president Frederick Slabach, who gave $1,000, and University of North Texas Health Science Center President Michael Williams, who gave $500.
But Powell first has to get past the Democratic primary. Also in the race is Allison Campolo, a graduate student and self-proclaimed socialist who moved to the district in April. Her supporters have slammed Powell for voting in Republican primaries in the past.
Campolo has raised $8,000, spent $5,163 and has $3,604 on hand. She received $1,000 from the Teamsters Local Union 745 in Dallas.
Burton recently announced her plans to seek reelection.
According to her latest campaign finance report, she raised $196,000, spent $49,000 with $352,000 cash on hand and has $240,000 in outstanding loans. Prominent donors include $10,000 from Dick Saulsbury, $5,000 from Tim Dunn, $50,000 from Empower Texans PAC.