Wendy Davis had a dominant night at the first gubernatorial debate. Davis brought facts and the vision for the future, while Greg Abbott was left with Republican talking points and lies.
Video of the debate:
Davis got the first question about balancing border security and local development. She answered that she would listen to local leaders, and hammered Greg Abbott for calling this part of the area Third World. Abbott rebutted by saying that secure communities promote economic development. Abbott tied economic development in the Rio Grande Valley to economic development. Abbott’s first question was about the state Supreme Court ruling the school funding system unconstitutional. Abbott answered with no education plan, but with Republican platitudes on education. Davis pointed out that she protested the education cuts that Abbott is defending. She called the education cuts he supports “dumb,” and vowed to fight for more regulation for schools.
Davis was asked about what she sees as fair regulations for abortion. She called out Abbott for campaigning with a known sexual predator (Ted Nugent). She said, “Mr. Abbott that is not protecting Texas women.” Abbott rebutted with more Republican talking points about establishing a culture of life. (Abbott’s answers have been straight off the national Republican talking points sheet.)
Greg Abbott started to squirm when he was asked about his comments calling the Rio Grande Valley to a third world country. Abbott tried to rewrite history and claim that he was talking about the entire state, when media reports contradict his claims. At the quarter point of the debate, it is easy to see why Abbott is not performing as well of other Republicans in the polls. He is a very underwhelming candidate.
Wendy Davis ripped Abbott for not expanding Medicaid. She said, “Mr. Abbott is California’s best friend in Texas because he wants to keep sending our tax dollars to them.” Abbott accused Davis of wanting to expand Obamacare in Texas and called Obamacare an abject failure. Abbott said you had seen the future of Obamacare in veteran’s care, which was a total lie, because Obamacare is not government run healthcare.
Abbott said that Texas needed even less government and rejected raising the minimum wage, even though the increase would help 2.8 million Texans. Abbott tried to say that there aren’t many minimum wage workers in the state, when the truth is that Texas ranks near the top of the country in the number of minimum wage workers. Davis rebutted, “Raising the minimum wage is not only good for Texas families, it’s good for our economy.” She said Abbott is looking out for his insider friends, not Texas families.
Davis scored effective points on almost every question, but will it be enough to overcome a generic Republican opponent in deeply red Texas?
In the portion of the debate where the candidates could question each other, Greg Abbott asked Davis if she regretted voting for Obama. Davis answered that she is busy running for governor. She ignored his question and used it to discuss her vision of what the governor should be doing. (She didn’t answer the question.)
Davis asked Abbott about the state funding system being ruled unconstitutional. Davis asked Abbott if he will drop his appeals and appropriately fund the schools. Abbott tried to blame Davis for his unwillingness to settle the lawsuit. Davis got fired up and told Abbott that what he is doing is wrong.
Sen. Davis was asked about the decision to indict Rick Perry. She said that she believed that these are serious charges that deserve serious consideration. Abbott said the charges were bizarre for Perry to be indicted for exercising a veto. (This was a complete distortion of what Gov. Perry did.) Davis criticized Abbott for accepting a $100,000 donation from Koch Industries and blocking residents from having the right to know what kinds of dangerous chemicals are stored in the communities. Abbott said that residents can’t know about potential dangers like the explosion that happened in West, TX because of terrorism.
Abbott defended voter ID laws by claiming that voter fraud is real, despite the fact that there is no evidence of voter fraud.
Wendy Davis had a dominant performance in the first of two Texas gubernatorial debates. Watching this debate it is easy to see why Texas Republicans are working so hard to derail Davis’ political star. If he wins, Greg Abbott has the look of a candidate that voters will regret electing.
Abbott alternated between lying and blaming the federal government for his failures. He also showed no leadership and vision for the future. Attorney General Abbott is a Koch Republican, who could have been interchanged with thousands of other generic Republican candidates around the country.
Wendy Davis had a fantastic debate. She is a Democrat on the rise, and her strong debate showing should continue to help her close the gap on Greg Abbott.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association