News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Davis Squeaks Past Shelton To Keep State Senate Seat

Bill Zeeble, KERA

Democrat Wendy Davis held onto her State Senate seat in Tarrant County seat with a tough, tight win over Republican State Rep.  Mark Shelton.

Davis's margin was just 6,400 votes, enough to give her a 51 percent-to-49 percent victory.

The two spent at an estimated $6 million in what turned out to be one of the  costliest, closest battles in Texas.

At her victory party in Fort Worth, Davis blamed the nail biter on special interest money backing her opponent. She says her campaign to better improve education and women’s health care won out over Shelton’s message of  "fiscal belt-tightening without more taxes."

And, she says, voters responded.

"They want to make sure their children have a good education and that they have the opportunity to continue to the economic vibrancy of the State of Texas, that they want to make sure health care for women is respected and restored. They want to make sure that their voices count as much as those that are well paid and well heeled in the halls of the Capitol," Davis said.

Shelton, too, cited money in trying to explain his loss.

"You know, we were outspent heavily in the last month," he said. "I want to thank everybody that worked so hard for this campaign.  And this is not the end, maybe just the beginning. And we’ll see what happens next.  So, thank y’all very much."

Steve Maxwell, chair of the arrant County Democratic Party, says Davis returns to the Senate with additional power among her peers."It’s the most important race not just for Tarrant County but the state. She becomes the leader of the Democratic Party in Tarrant County because she’s carrying on the values of her constituents in District 10," Maxwell said.

The reason Davis' win had such a statewide impact is that it lets outnumbered Democrats in the Texas Senate hold on to the ability to block Republican measures  including school vouchers.

BJ Austin contributed to this report.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.