Wendy Davis trails but competitive in Texas governor race, poll says

Wendy Davis trails but competitive in Texas governor race, poll says
Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis is expected to announce her gubernatorial candidacy Thursday. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

On the eve of announcing a widely anticipated bid for Texas governor, Democrat Wendy Davis is trailing her main GOP rival but starts the race within shouting distance, according to a new poll.

Republican Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott leads Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, 29% to 21%  in the survey, outside the poll's margin of error. But the race is clearly in the formative stage; half of those sampled were undecided.

Davis, 50, burst onto the national scene in June after leading a filibuster that temporarily stopped passage of strict abortion restrictions. Although the measure was later approved and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Davis raised more than a $1 million and built a nationwide network of supporters who urged her into the race.

Still, the contest promises to be an uphill struggle for her. Republicans have won more than 100 statewide elections in a row and no Democrat has been elected governor since 1990, when Ann Richards won.

Abbott enjoys a huge financial advantage, with more than $20 million in the bank, and will be able to take advantage of a political and cultural landscape in Texas that tilts decidedly rightward. He faces a primary challenge from Tom Pauken, a former state Republican Party chairman who has little money but a following within the tea party wing of the Texas GOP.

The survey was conducted by the Texas Lyceum, a nonpartisan public policy organization, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.47 percentage points.

Twitter: @markzbarabak