Reality Check: Dueling ads in Tarrant County state senate race




Posted on October 9, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 10 at 10:10 AM

The state senate race in Tarrant County is one of the most contested in this Texas this fall.

Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis is seeking re-election, and Republican State Rep. Mark Shelton is challenging her.

Their campaigns are already being played out in dueling TV commercials with some false and true claims.

The Davis ad doesn't mention her opponent; nor does it reveal that she's a Democrat. Instead, it highlights education in her life and also her filibuster at the end of the legislature's 2011 regular session.

An announcer says: "Wendy fought politicians who slashed billions from Texas schools."

  • That's true

Davis opposed the Republican Senate budget later passed in a special session that cut billions from schools.

In contrast, the Shelton ad attacks Davis by name.

An announcer in the Shelton ad claims: "Democrat Wendy Davis supports higher taxes," with an accompanying graphic stating "even for seniors and disabled."

  • Not so fast

Davis was the only "no" vote on the Fort Worth City Council in 2007 to freeze seniors' home property taxes. The tax break was in addition to exemptions seniors already enjoy.

Davis opposed it, arguing it was a tax shift or increase to younger home owners that the city staff at the time estimated would cost nearly $19 million over five years.

The Shelton ad also says, "Republican Mark Shelton co-authored a balanced budget without raising taxes."

That's true.

Although Republican lawmakers have been criticized for using gimmicks like shifting a month of school payments to the next budget and putting off billions in Medicaid costs to 2013 as ways to match revenue and spending.

The Shelton ad goes on to claim: "Davis gets millions from job-killing personal injury trial lawyers."

  • That's false

Campaign finance reports checked by WFAA and the Texas Tribune show contributions to Davis of about $800,000 from all kinds of attorneys — including trial lawyers or their related PACS — since 2007.

Then, the Shelton commercial claims: "Shelton fights for job-creating businesses."

  • That's true

The Texas Association of Business endorsed Shelton in the primary, citing his support for job growth.

Toward the end of the Shelton ad, the announcer says: "Davis profits from peddling her influence as a state senator."

  • Not so fast

In 2010, Davis formed a law firm with Gov. Rick Perry's former chief of staff, Brian Newby. "Peddling" means to "sell" or "promote as valuable," according to Merriam-Webster.

The Newby-Davis website explains she's a state senator and that her firm that seeks business from school districts and other local governments. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and the North Texas Tollway Authority are clients.

Davis' legal work has raised a conflict of interest question that's been reported extensively in the Texas Tribune and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, but Davis denies there is.

What is certain is that more ads are ahead in this contentious race.


Watch the Mark Shelton political ad: 

Watch the Wendy Davis political ad: