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Davis Vs. Abbott: A Gubernatorial Tale Of The Tape

Here’s the 411 on the likely general-election matchup for governor in 2014. In one corner: Wendy Davis, the Democratic state senator who announced her bid Thursday in the Fort Worth suburb of Haltom City. In the other: Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general who’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination, if he can get past former state GOP chairman Tom Pauken.

The North Texas Feud: Davis was born in Rhode Island, grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from Richland High. Abbott was born in Wichita Falls and spent his high school years in Duncanville.

Money: Abbott has already raised $25 million, while Davis has something north of $1 million.

History: It's been almost two decades since a Democrat has held a statewide seat in Texas. Abbott was elected attorney general in 2002 and has been re-elected twice.

Polling: A statewide poll released Wednesday shows Abbott with an eight-point lead over Davis. The poll, conducted by the Texas Lyceum, shows Abbott with 29 percent and Davis at 21 percent. But fully half of registered voters said they don’t know who will get their vote. Among women who were polled, Abbott and Davis are in a statistical tie, 25 percent to 23 percent. The poll has a margin of error of 3.47 percentage points.

Analysis: Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University, told the Texas Tribune that he found the gender gap “intriguing.” Davis needs support of white suburban women in order to be competitive, observers say.

Jillson has his doubts about whether Davis succeed where Democrats have failed for two decades. "The Republicans have had a very steady 8- to 12- to 16-point advantage," Jillsontold KERA's Shelley Kofler last month. "And the fact that she made a wonderful filibuster speech and is potentially an attractive candidate doesn't close a 15-point gap.

The ‘liberal’ label: Over the weekend, Davis spoke at the 2013 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. She began striking the tone she may need to attract some Republican and independent supporters and to rid herself of the “liberal” label often attached to Democrats, Shelley reports.

Abortion criticism: A state anti-abortion group on Thursday launched a bilingual radio ad campaign criticizing Davis as an “abortion zealot.” The 60-second spots sponsored by Texas Right to Life are scheduled to hit the airwaves this weekend.

Previous Davis and Abbott coverage from KERA and other outlets

Politicos Get Close Up Of Abbott, Davis

Interview: The Calculus of a Wendy Davis Run For Governor

Wendy Davis On Running For Governor And Life As A Teenage Mom

Greg Abbott Launches Campaign For Governor

Wendy Davis: A Texas Senator's Humble Beginnings

Relive The Night Of The Abortion Filibuster

Wendy Davis ‘Will Make A Strong Candidate,’ Julián Castro Tells KERA

Expect A ‘Bruising Campaign’ Between Davis And Abbott

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.