Tarrant County senate race between Davis, Shelton heats up

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on September 28, 2012 at 7:08 PM

FORT WORTH -- Much of the Tarrant County state senate race between Democratic incumbent Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican challenger State Representative Mark Shelton will be played out in TV ads.

And in a strange twist Friday, there was new controversy over Shelton's ads that haven't even aired yet.

Allegations of lies and questionable ethics are already being tossed back and forth between the two.

Davis got her law degree from Harvard, but still knows when she's in a street fight. She said of Shelton, "His ads expose a strategy built upon false and negative attacks designed to mislead and disillusion voters."

Davis aired the first ad this week in this already nasty race, highlighting education in her life and her votes against school budget cuts -- reductions Republican Shelton supported.

Shelton's first TV commercial is due next week.

But at a news conference, Davis released what she said are Shelton's ad scripts a third party gave her campaign. The scripts claim Davis is a lobbyist and that the NTTA hired her to "get her vote."

Davis called the allegation false.

"Well, as public records verify, I'm not a lobbyist and my law partner has never lobbied on behalf of our firm," she said.

However, the Texas Tribune reported Friday that Davis' law partner, Brian Newby, who was Gov. Rick Perry's former chief of staff, did register with the Texas Ethics Commission in 2011 and 2012.

A Davis campaign spokesman told the Tribune that Newby registered out of an abundance of caution, but never lobbied any legislators.

Davis also said she did no legal work for NTTA until August last year, after the legislative session.

In response, Shelton's campaign didn't back down, saying in a statement, "Why is State Senator Wendy Davis using her influence as an elected official to steer lucrative public contracts to her own lobby and law practice?"

The claims and counter claims on the ground and on the air are just starting.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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