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Democrats Win Republican Seat in Tarrant County

Dan Barrett looks over vote information with a campaign aide Tuesday evening.
Dan Barrett looks over vote information with a campaign aide Tuesday evening.

By Shelley Kofler

Fort Worth, TX – A democrat has won a Tarrant County legislative seat held by republicans for some three decades. Democrat Dan Barrett, a lawyer, defeated Republican Mark Shelton, a pediatrician, in a runoff race to succeed Anna Mowery whose retiring. Barrett received 52% or the vote, Shelton garnered 48%. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports.
Cheers erupted at Democrat Dan Barrett's election party as the first returns showed him leading by ten points.

Barrett: I'm very very pleased obviously

Although that lead narrowed to four points by the end of the night, Barrett never fell behind Republican Mark Shelton, a pediatrician who made immigration his top issue.

Barrett believes other issues resonated with the district's growing number of independent voters:

Barrett: Our electric rates, the Trans-Texas Corridor, CHIP was a big issue. The immigration issue didn't really resonate because they understand that isn't a state issue as much as a federal issue.

Another Democrat, State Representative Mark Veesey, believes Barrett's call to unseat House Speaker Tom Craddick was also a factor.

Veesey: This has been a huge referendum on Speaker Craddick

Craddick is a target for those who accuse him of sidelining legislators who don't support his agenda. Barrett claimed Shelton's alliance with Craddick would prevent Shelton from being independent.

Shelton blames voter apathy for his loss.

Shelton: This has traditionally been a republican district and I think they thought republicans would always win and they stayed home. This is a busy time of year.

While Barret will serve through 2008, he's already filed to run in next year's election for the term that follows. Mark Shelton says he'll run again, too.