Joel Burns may seek Wendy Davis’ Senate seat if she runs for governor

Posted on 15 Aug 2013 at 7:15am

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Last week we mentioned that if state Sen. Wendy Davis decides to run for governor, one of the possible candidates to replace her in the Senate would be openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. At the time, however, Burns wasn’t commenting on a a possible bid for Davis’ District 10 seat in Tarrant County.

But this week, Burns told The Dallas Morning News (subscription required) “that he’s been approached by operatives about a possible campaign to replace Davis.”

“It’s something that I have thought about,” Burns said. “But until she decides what she wants to do, I can’t give it more than that.”

Davis, who recently gained stardom for her filibuster of an abortion bill on the Senate floor, has said she’ll decide whether to run for governor by Labor Day. Davis represents a swing district in the Senate, so Burns or another Democrat would face a tough battle against the Republican nominee, which three candidates are already seeking. But according to The DMN, Burns believes “that if he gets into the race, he can meld a winning coalition of minorities, women and moderates.”

“Anyone who has shown a history of forging coalitions and can talk about the main street issues facing Texas has a leg up,” Burns said.

Burns, who briefly considered running for Congress in 2012, won a special election to replace Davis on the Fort Worth City Council after she stepped down to run for Senate in 2007. Burns had been appointed to the city Zoning Commission by Davis and became the first openly LGBT elected official in Tarrant County’s history. He was re-elected earlier this year to a third full two-year term.

Burns became nationally known in the LGBT community when he delivered an “It Gets Better” speech about being bullied as a youth during a City Council meeting in 2010. A video of the speech posted on YouTube has been viewed almost 3 million times.

Burns could certainly draw on that notoriety to raise money if he is to mount a campaign for state Senate. If Burns were to win the seat, he’d be the first openly LGBT person elected to the Texas Senate. Two openly LGBT candidates have been elected to the Texas House.

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