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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Sunday that banned "sanctuary cities" in the state. Photo taken in 2016. Photo by Mike Stone/Reuters

Democrats head to runoff in bid to unseat Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott

The first Hispanic female sheriff in Texas is headed to a Democratic runoff against the son of a former governor in their longshot bid to unseat Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

Former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Houston investor Andrew White advanced Tuesday from a field of nine largely unknown Democratic primary candidates. The runoff election is May 22.

Texas Democrats haven’t won a statewide race since 1994. The party’s rising stars in Texas all passed on running for governor after Democrat Wendy Davis lost by 20 points in 2014.

READ MORE: Sen. Cruz, Democratic challenger O’Rourke secure party nominations in Texas primary

White is the son of former Texas Gov. Mark White, who served one term in the 1980s and died last year. Andrew White is a self-described “conservative Democrat” who has alienated progressives over his personal opposition to abortion.

Valdez would be the first Hispanic and openly gay governor in Texas history.

Meanwhile, Abbott is striking a cautious tone despite sailing to victory against little-known challengers.

Abbott easily clinched his party’s nomination Tuesday and has a campaign war chest worth around $43 million, more than any gubernatorial candidate nationwide.

Abbott is nonetheless heavily favored in November. Still, Democrats more than doubled their early voter participation in the primary when compared to the Texas’ last midterm election in 2014. They are optimistic despite not winning a Texas statewide office since 1994.

In a statement, Abbott declared “We cannot afford to take Texas for granted,” adding “This is a fight for our future and it begins now.”

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