HURST (CBS 11 NEWS) – Most of the Democrats vying to unseat Republican Governor Greg Abbott painted their vision for the Lone Star State during a forum hosted by the Mid-Cities Democrats Tuesday night.

Six of the nine candidates hoping to win the primary spoke to more than 100 people at the UAW Hall in Hurst.

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Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidates (Jack Fink – CBS11)

Political analysts say the Democrats face an uphill battle against Abbott, a popular Governor who has a $43 million campaign war chest.

Among those who attended, Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston businessman Andrew White, whose father Mark was Governor.

Both are considered the two front-runners.

Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne, who has traveled 23,000 miles across Texas campaigning since October, also addressed the crowd.

The three agree the state needs to spend more on public education, expanding Medicaid, and womens’ rights, but sought to differentiate themselves.

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Regarding Governor Abbott and state Republicans, White said, “All come from the same school of government, a la Donald Trump, which means they’re focused on extremists and on the fringe, and they forget the rest of us.”

Payne said he’s stepping up. “I want to step out of my box and represent you. It’s now time to step up. I’m not running against Abbott and I’m sure as hell not running against Trump, I’m running for you.”

Valdez said her experience counts. “I know what is is to delegate and work with budgets. I was elected and re-elected four times. I know what it is to run a campaign.”

Jeremy Smith says he liked Valdez and Payne. “They were unapologetically sincere about their views. They didn’t waffle one way or the other.”

Pamela Young, an Independent hasn’t made up her mind, but says she likes Andrew White. “The things he said really resonated with me. I felt his genuineness.”

White loaned his campaign $1 million and raised nearly $140,000 last month.

Valdez raised about $48,000 last month, which includes a $5,000 loan to her campaign.

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She says this race will be won by the grassroots.