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Abbott, Davis wrangle over gubernatorial debates schedule

 - Pencil in Sept. 19 and Oct. 3

The two leading candidates for Texas governor already are wrangling over how many debates to hold before the Nov. 4 general election, with Republican Greg Abbott drawing the line at two and Democrat Wendy Davis pushing for six.

Despite this being the first open gubernatorial race since 1990 when Bill Clements decided not to run for re-election, and the first since Rick Perry stepped into the office after George W. Bush became president in 2000, political observers anticipate the final number of debates will be closer to what Abbott’s camp wants.

To date, Abbott has agreed to a debate on Sept. 19 in McAllen and another on Oct. 3 in Dallas.

The McAllen debate will be hosted by KGBT-TV, KLTM-TV and The Monitor.  The Dallas debate will be hosted by WFAA-TV, though may be rescheduled because it conflicts with Yom Kippur.

Davis is pushing for a series of six debates beginning in July, one each in Dallas-Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, El Paso, Houston and Lubbock.

While the conventional political wisdom suggests that debates rarely influence the outcome of an election, they provide an invaluable opportunity for candidates to reveal to voters how they approach important policy issues in a non-partisan setting with objective journalists.

In major statewide races, TAB traditionally provides and coordinates statewide satellite distribution to TV and radio stations, as well as real-time Spanish language interpretation, in an effort to advance greater civic participation which remains among the lowest of any state in the U.S.

This fall, TAB plans to support debates in races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller. Stations that are able to secure commitments for debates are invited to contact TAB’s Michael Schneider for help with logistics.

Questions?  Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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