- Associated Press - Monday, October 20, 2014

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Trailing in polls and money with just two weeks until Election Day, Democrat Wendy Davis on Monday cast her ballot on the first day of early voting and rejected talk that her bid for Texas governor is headed for defeat.

“If our voters show up and vote, we will win. There is no question about that,” Davis said.

But after a weekend U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed Texas to enforce a strict voter ID law at polls through Nov. 4, even other Democrats are raising concerns over turnout. A record 14 million voters are registered to choose the first new Texas governor in 14 years, but the U.S. Justice Department says about 600,000 who are eligible lack an acceptable ID.

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott has defended the law in court while running against Davis. He began a final burst of campaigning in East Texas on Monday and has called the estimated number of disadvantaged voters under the ID law flawed.

Abbott opened early voting by tweeting to supporters that Davis campaigned with former Democratic House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, saying, “Don’t let her California our Texas.”

Davis cast her ballot in Fort Worth, which she has represented as a state senator since 2009. Her hometown newspaper has endorsed Abbott, and although Davis has been backed by other major and midsize papers across Texas, she remains an underdog in the homestretch of a campaign that debuted to national attention a year ago.

The roughly $6 million left in her campaign bankroll as of late September was about one-fifth of what Abbott reported. Some polls show her trailing by double digits.

After voting Monday, Davis’ campaign latched onto a San Antonio Express-News story in which Abbott said he couldn’t answer a hypothetical question about whether he would have defended a ban on interracial marriage. It was the latest attack in a campaign-long narrative by Davis that Abbott wouldn’t be inclusive as governor.

Asked whether she considered the race to have been nasty or negative, Davis said: “I think this has been a race that has defined for the people of this state what’s at stake for them.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Veasey, who joined the Justice Department in the voter ID lawsuit, predicted that the Supreme Court ruling would impact turnout among minorities.

“I am concerned there are going to be people who will be discouraged and not show up at all,” Veasey said. “I think it puts communities of color at a disadvantage.”

Democrats haven’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994, a losing streak that many observers believe Davis will be pressed to break.

“She not only had to run a flawless campaign, he had to make a serious mistake,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “And neither of those things have happened.”


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