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The Brief: Nov. 4, 2014

Voters go to the polls today with much at stake, as in the wholesale turnover at the top of state government, but seemingly little in the way of suspense about the outcome of those races.

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The Big Conversation

Voters go to the polls today with much at stake, as in the wholesale turnover at the top of state government, but seemingly little in the way of suspense about the outcome of those races, given the continued Republican hegemony in state politics.

"If Texas Democrats win a statewide race Tuesday night, it'll be an upset," writes the Tribune's Ross Ramsey. "That’s not to say it's impossible, but a Democratic win on the statewide executive and judicial ballot would be something akin to an August blizzard."

The Democrats' standard bearer, gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis, tried to shrug off the poor prognoses, telling reporters on Monday that she expects to win. "I want it to be remembered as the biggest political upset in Texas history," she said.

Her GOP counterpart, Greg Abbott, spent Monday warning his voters not to be complacent in the face of polls showing him cruising to an easy win. "The liberal agenda is turning out their vote across the entire state of Texas. If conservatives, if Republicans stay home and don't go vote, Texas could wind up like California," he said during a tele-townhall on Monday evening.

Those looking for competitive races will be focused on contests further down the ballot, such as the showdown between Democratic incumbent Pete Gallego and GOP challenger Will Hurd in the San Antonio/West Texas-anchored Congressional District 23.

Also attracting attention are a couple of legislative races where Republicans hope to flip a Senate seat (Tarrant County's Senate District 10) and a House seat (Galveston's House District 23). And a trio of big-city district attorney contests in Harris, Dallas and Bexar counties are generating interest due to the ferocity of the attacks in those races.

The Day Ahead

•    It's Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To find your polling place, click here. And remember to bring photo ID, which is now required to vote. A list of acceptable forms of ID can be found here.

Trib Must-Reads

Emergency Responders Face Shale Boom Challenges, by Alana Rocha and Tamir Kalifa

Texas Prison Inmate Database Updated, by Ryan Murphy

Lawyers Seek New Exam for Death Row Client, by Terri Langford

No Basis to Quash Perry Indictment, Prosecutors Say, by Terri Langford

In Conference Call, Obama Urges Texas Democrats to Vote, by Jay Root

Elsewhere

Texas's voter-ID law: So, is it suppressing voters?, The Economist

Texas Has Issued More Auctioneer's Licenses than Voter IDs, Texas Observer

Holder sends poll watchers to 18 states, The Hill

The best little House race in Texas, Politico

Jeffers: Disunity dogged Dallas County Democrats this election season, The Dallas Morning News

Texas Governor Intimidating Grand Jury, Prosecutor Claims, Bloomberg

Mission Mayor funds anti-hospital district TV ads, The (McAllen) Monitor

U.S. high court declines to hear Fort Worth Episcopal dispute, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Who Would Have Health Insurance if Medicaid Expansion Weren't Optional, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“Victory for Democrats would be if any of their statewide candidates lose by single digits. That would be a sign of significant progress. I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

— Southern Methodist University political scientist Matthew Wilson, laying out the measuring stick for Democratic success on Election Day

Today in TribTalk

Why me and not Wendy Davis, by Greg Abbott

Why me and not Greg Abbott, by Wendy Davis

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst on Dec. 4 at The Austin Club

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