Dallas mayor enters Senate race, promises to make 'hard calls'

Billing himself as "a true Texas conservative," Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert (R) jumped into the Texas Senate race Friday.

Leppert announced his intention to leave the mayor's office on Wednesday and many observers anticipated he'd move quickly to gain an edge in the GOP primary for retiring Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's seat. He leaves office effective midnight on Friday.

Announcing his candidacy in a Web video, Leppert talked about "tough choices" and "hard calls" and warned that "government's become an obstacle."

"Today, our country is less competitive than it used to be," he said. "Government is over-spending, over-taxing and over-regulating. And as a result, destroying real jobs."

Leppert talked up the "business principles" and "common-sense conservative judgment" that he brought to his one term in the mayor's office in Dallas.

"To combat crime, we increased the police force — without raising taxes," he said. "Violent crime: It plummeted 30 percent.

"I made the hard calls, the hard calls that others had kicked down the road."

Leppert joins an already crowded GOP field that includes former Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams, former solicitor general Ted Cruz and former Secretary of State Roger Williams. The state's Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R) is also expected to eventually join the race.

Leppert told the Dallas Morning News that he wasn't intimidated by the competition.

"Dewhurst is out there, but there is obviously a path to victory," said Leppert. "When it gets to a 1-on-1, I really feel comfortable."

Leppert said he plans to raise somewhere between $7 million to $10 million for the primary, and contribute some of his own money.

"I'm going to put my money where my mouth is," he said.

--Shane D'Aprile contributed