10/03/2013 09:47 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Wendy Davis Now Within Single Digits; Joins Texas Governor's Race Today

Democratic state Senator Wendy Davis is already within striking distance in the race for Texas Governor, even though she still hasn't jumped in. That's about to change.

It's also trouble for the GOP, and trouble looks good.

The state's long-serving Republican Attorney General announced his bid for the top job in July, but only leads Davis by an anemic 29 to 21 percent, according to a new poll by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Texas Lyceum.

Get this: 50 percent of those polled say they don't know who they'll vote for.

Davis must be pleased that Greg Abbott has been AG for 12 years yet still makes no strong impression with voters. He's pleasant looking and low key, wheelchair-bound from a jogging accident at age 26, and quietly courts the evangelical and Tea Party wings of the Republican base. His aggressive former protégé, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, spent years as his Solicitor General (the AG's chief appellate lawyer). Davis can certainly contrast differences with her opponent on a host of issues.

Regardless, her own strengths and bona fides stand on their own....and stand tall, as the country witnessed during her marathon filibuster for women's health care.

She has already caused Abbott to reverse his opposition to the US Airways/American Airlines merger. DFW-based American is a major player, employing tens of thousands in the Lone Star State. In August, Texas joined a Justice Department lawsuit to block the merger. Abbott followed up with a forceful op-ed in the Dallas newspaper. Davis, on the other hand, supports the merger, as do all relevant labor unions. The business community strongly agrees with her. Now, just six weeks later, Abbott has pulled out of the federal action, waving the flag of surrender. Ouch.

Score not only a political point, score a business point -- a jobs point -- for the supposed single-issue, falsely-labeled "Abortion Barbie."

Thursday, she'll doubtless address education when she announces for Governor in the same auditorium where she received her high school diploma. A divorced young mother of limited means, she graduated first in her class at TCU before earning a degree with honors from Harvard Law.

Later came a decade as a big-city council member in Fort Worth, followed by two terms in the 31-member state Senate from a Republican-leaning district.

Wendy Davis is the real deal, a centrist Democrat who can win in red America. Texas may finally be poised to show a little purple.

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