After an announcement windup of LeBronian proportions, Texas Gov. Rick Perry revealed his plans for 2014: He would not seek a fourth full term. This sets up the first open-seat race for governor since 1990, the year Ann Richards won. On paper, it also makes life a little easier for Democrats. According to Public Policy Polling, which went into the state a few times this year, Perry led new Democratic star Sen. Wendy Davis by 14 points. The Republican most likely to replace Perry on the ballot, Attorney Gen. Greg Abbott, led Davis by only 8 points.
Why did I say "on paper"? Abbott has been prepping for a race like this for a decade. He has $11.2 million in campaign funds, which hardly needed to be used in his sure-thing re-election bids. For some reason I've been on his email list for ages, and spent June getting pitches like this:
Texas is the last bastion of opportunity today in America.
We have to keep it that way. Will you help me in my effort to keep Texas great with a contribution to my campaign before the end-of-June fundraising deadline?
It’s unacceptable that an overreaching federal government would try to use the IRS to make decisions based on political ideology, unfair that they would enact intrusive policies to destroy Texas jobs, and unthinkable that they would allow the World Court to trump Texas law.
And it’s undeniable that we will continue to fight and succeed in victory to protect Texas from the unconstitutional madness that singles out the liberty of Texans as a target!
I ask you to help me continue to defend Texas and our values. We have won crucial battles, but we are not done yet.
And so on. You've got, potentially, a race between a Democrat who has (potentially) a new national fundraising base excited about her pro-choice stance versus a guns-a-blazin' conservative. You also may have Kinky Friedman running as an independent, something that drew liberal votes when he tried it in 2006. Overall you've traded a "change vs. a historic fourth term" election for a "Democrat versus the sort of Republican we elect to everything" election.