2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Davis Credits Victory to Tough Campaigning

Experts think Davis' future in Democratic Party is bright

By Chris Van Horne
|  Wednesday, Nov 7, 2012  |  Updated 6:26 PM CDT
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Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis campaigned hard and in the end was able to retain her seat in what remains a mostly Republican district.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter

Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis campaigned hard and in the end was able to retain her seat in what remains a mostly Republican district.

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The race for State Senate District 10 was one of the closest races in North Texas on Tuesday night, and one that was watched across the state.

Incumbent Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) held off Republican challenger Dr. Mark Shelton by 6,402 votes on Tuesday.

The race was significant because Davis, a rising star in the Democratic Party, was able to retain her seat in what remains a mostly Republican district.

Republicans, outside observers and the senator all said they knew it would be a close race, and they all say she won because of how hard she campaigns and works.

"We knew it would be a tough campaign from the start," Davis said a news conference on Wednesday.

Davis said she's thrilled to return to the state Senate for a second term and credited the coalition of voters and working with communities in the district to navigating her to a victory.

"We're working as a community here," she said. "We're working as a family works together; that's what I think those numbers show."

Building coalitions and staying in touch with the district while in Austin and working at home during recesses helped garner her votes, she said.

The Tarrant County Republican Party Chair Jennifer Hall said Davis is a formidable candidate who works very hard to get votes. Hall said the party sees the district as still being very Republican and hopes to retake the seat in 2016.

University of Texas at Arlington associate political science professor Allan Saxe agreed the district is still very Republican and that Davis' campaigning and coalition-building helped win her the election.

"The fact that she was able to make it a close race and become victorious is due to her unbelievably tough political skills and the people she's brought over to her side," he said.

Saxe said he wasn't surprised by how close the race was and that he wouldn't have been surprised if Shelton had won. And Saxe agreed with Davis' Wednesday assessment that her efforts could work on a statewide level for Democrats.

"I think a statewide Democratic candidate that demonstrated that same willingness and built that same type of relationship with communities across the state would have the potential to do the same," Davis said. "What it does is causes people to set partisanship aside. I know -- not just in the state of Texas but across the country -- they're (voters) tired of the divisiveness."

But Davis wouldn't discuss any the possibility of seeking higher office, saying she's focused on the next legislative session.

Saxe said her hard work could very well pay off down the road.

"There's always speculation automatically -- 'Is she going to run for higher office?' I think she will," he said. "I think she is a very politically attractive candidate, and the Democratic Party probably nationally may be looking at her."

Saxe said former Gov. Ann Richards may serve as a good role model for Davis, although he admitted that Davis running for anything else is still several years away.

Hall said she wishes Davis the best for the district's sake but hopes her party takes the seat back in four years.

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