AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The biggest shake up of Texas politics in decades is two weeks away.
As early voting begins Monday, little has changed since campaigns launched a year ago: Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is still favored to become the next governor, George P. Bush is poised to win his political debut and Democrats remain longshots to break a 20-year losing streak in statewide races.
But it’s an election that will be transformative if not dramatic. Every major statewide office is changing hands, which makes Nov. 4 the start of the biggest power shift in Texas government since at least 1990.
Until then, here’s where things stand:
Abbott will begin the final stretch Monday in East Texas, riding a comfortable lead in public polls and a 5-to-1 advantage in campaign cash over Democrat Wendy Davis. Unlike gubernatorial races in Wisconsin and Florida that are going down to the wire, Texas hasn’t been the toss-up that Democrats hoped.
Davis, a state senator, is scheduled to cast her ballot Monday in Fort Worth. Her television ads that magnified Abbott’s use of a wheelchair and a 1990s rape lawsuit have drawn national attention and put her on the defensive from critics, but Davis hasn’t backed down while trying to become the first Democrat in the governor’s mansion since Ann Richards.
Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick has done few public events since ousting three-term incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a nasty and expensive GOP primary runoff. But his low profile hasn’t harmed his prospects.
The talk radio host and tea party star is a heavy favorite over Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte. His hard-line stance on immigration has drawn rebuke from even some fellow Republicans, but Van de Putte remains a big underdog to stop Patrick from taking over the position that presides over the Legislature’s upper chamber and ushering in an aggressive new conservative agenda.
OTHER STATEWIDE OFFICES
Even though the leaders of Texas’ biggest offices come January will be new, the faces won’t be — with one likely exception. George P. Bush, the son of potential 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush and nephew of George W. Bush, is set to become land commissioner and be the first member in the famous family to win their first election.
Republicans Ken Paxton (attorney general), Glenn Hegar (comptroller) and Sid Miller (agriculture commissioner) are likewise heavily favored against their little-known and underfunded Democratic opponents.
Texas has 36 congressional seats, but the only really contested one is the sprawling 23rd district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso. The seat has switched from Democrat to Republican in each of the last three election cycles, and incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego is now trying to fend off Republican challenger Will Hurd.
Sen. John Cornyn is also up for re-election against heavy underdog David Alameel.
The U.S. Supreme Court this weekend gave Texas permission to enforce voter ID at the polls after a lower court deemed the requirement unconstitutional and the equivalent of a poll tax. A record 14 million registered voters in Texas will now need one of seven approved kinds of photo ID to cast a ballot.