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Primary Will Determine Who Takes Dallas House Seat

By Emily Ramshaw, The Texas Tribune
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DALLAS (THE TEXAS TRIBUNE) – State Rep. Barbara Mallory Caraway’s campaign for Congress has left a key opening in a historically black southern Dallas state House district — and three Democratic candidates are angling for it. With nobody else in the race, whoever wins the May 29 primary gets the HD-110 seat.

Larry Taylor has a formidable resume. The lawyer and former Dallas County assistant district attorney was once Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s director of outreach, and he interned in the state House parliamentarian’s office. He has been endorsed by key local leaders, including state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas; Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; and County Commissioner John Wiley Price, and he got an endorsement from The Dallas Morning News.

“My experience at the state, federal and local level lends itself to better opportunities to really try to get things done within the district,” Taylor said.

But Taylor has also been dogged by allegations that he’s a newcomer to the district — though he’s lived in the region for years, he said he moved into the district in October — and he has been criticized by his opponents for voting in the GOP primary in 2008.

Toni Rose is a hospital mental health worker with her own list of institutional support — including state Rep. Yvonne Davis, D-Dallas, and former Dallas City Council member Maxine Thornton-Reese. Rose, who has served on the Dallas Plan and Zoning Commission, has received substantial contributions from Annie’s List, which works to get Democratic women into elective office, and the North Texas Leadership PAC, founded by Dallas dental center mogul and CD-33 congressional candidate David Alameel. Rose didn’t return repeated phone and email messages seeking comment.

And then there’s Cedric Davis, an Army veteran, the past police chief for the since-shuttered Wilmer-Hutchins school district, and the former Balch Springs mayor, who currently runs a security and investigations company. Political consultants say he’s something of a perennial candidate: He won a seat on the Wilmer-Hutchins school board, only to be swept out with the rest of the board when the Texas Education Agency took over the troubled district. He lost a 2006 state House race to state Rep. Helen Giddings, D-DeSoto, before being elected Balch Springs mayor. After losing re-election in 2009, he tried unsuccessfully to reclaim the seat in 2011.

“I’m the only one who has actually held high office before,” he said. “There’s a money machine behind Toni Rose. Taylor’s got the backing of big-time incumbents. And little old me, I’m a community activist knocking on doors.”

Democratic Dallas political consultant Renee Hartley said there’s no clear front-runner for the district, which has historically elected black lawmakers even though it is increasingly becoming a Hispanic opportunity district.

While Davis has a good reputation in the district, which includes part of Balch Springs, Rose has a lot of name recognition, Hartley said. And despite perceptions that Taylor moved into the district to run for that office, she said he’s got the most experience.

Hartley said she expects a runoff; she’s putting her money on Rose and Taylor. But she said she hopes whoever’s elected “will grow into that role” — and be someone who can represent the changing face of the district.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-politics/2012-legislative-election/primary-will-determine-who-takes-dallas-house-seat/.

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