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Ted Cruz Brings Star Power To Konni Burton's Texas Senate Campaign

Shelley Kofler
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz campaigns for Konni Burton, a GOP candidate for the Texas Senate District 10 seat in Tarrant County.

Sen. Ted Cruz visited Fort Worth Wednesday night to bestow his endorsement and star power on the Republican runoff campaign of Konni Burton, a tea party candidate who wants to fill the state senate seat Wendy Davis is giving up.

Nearly 1,000 conservative activists packed a hall in the Fort Worth Stockyards to hear their hero rail against politics as usual and urge conservatives to work for Burton who worked for him.

“Konni worked thousands of hours to help elect me to the Senate,” Cruz said.  “She’s a citizen patriot.  She loves liberty and she loves the constitution.”

Burton, of Colleyville, won 43 percent of the Republican primary vote and now faces former state representative Mark Shelton in a May 27 runoff. Shelton, a Fort Worth pediatrician who captured 35 percent in the primary, narrowly lost to Davis, a Democrat, in the general election two years ago.  He said he had no comment on how Cruz’s involvement might affect the race.

Credit Shelley Kofler / KERA News
Morgan McConk holds shirt backing a Ted Cruz presidential run.

Burton says support from the grassroots movement that helped Cruz is part of the reason she expects to be the GOP nominee.

“We have a very libertarian element in Tarrant County. I’ve got full support from them. I’ve got the support of Republican-elected officials as well as Republican precinct chairs and area leaders,” Burton said. 

The crowd also had the 2016 presidential election in mind as they chanted: "Run, Ted, run.”

“I appreciate all of the kind encouragement,” Cruz said in response.

“I can tell you my focus is on doing my job, which is to represent 26 million Texans,” he added without acknowledging an interest in running for president.

This week, however, Cruz made his fourth trip to Iowa in about eight months.

Iowa votes early in the presidential process and carries a lot of influence in determining party nominees.

The Republican winner in Texas Senate District 10 faces Democrat Libby Willis in the fall. 

Green Party candidate John Tunmire and Libertarian Gene Lord are also running.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.