Friday, August 15, 2014

At last, a Texas lieutenant governor debate

Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick has agreed to participate in a September debate with his Democratic opponent for lieutenant governor, Leticia Van de Putte.

Patrick's campaign announced Wednesday that he'll debate his Senate colleague Sept. 27 Sept. 29 for an hour-long event to be broadcast by KLRU-TV in Austin. It will be moderated by Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey.

But Van de Putte released a statement Wednesday calling Patrick a "coward" for agreeing to just one debate out of five she's proposed. She said a single debate "in front of a bunch of Austin insiders" isn't enough.

Patrick's campaign says he participated in numerous debates during the Republican primary and is working to establish a debate schedule in the coming months that doesn't conflict with ones involving the candidates for governor.

Sounds as if there might be more than one debate.  Van de Putte has already built momentum this week with her initiative on free community college tuition for Texas high school graduates.

In a higher education proposal announced Thursday, Van de Putte called for amending the state constitution to create the “Texas Promise Scholarship Program” by pulling $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to underwrite scholarships for some high school graduates who are planning to attend a community college, technical college or a two-year state institution.

Add that to the fact that she is winning over the Texas business community, very much a new development for a statewide Democrat.

...Van de Putte pointed out that several prominent business leaders were helping her fill her campaign coffers.

Her list of fundraisers includes one to be hosted by Edward E. Whitacre Jr., former chairman and chief executive of General Motors and AT&T, and Henry Bartell Zachry Jr., who heads the H.B. Zachry Company.

The San Antonio business leaders have contributed to several Republican and Democratic candidates in the past, according to campaign filings, but they have chosen to raise money for Van de Putte in this election cycle.

But as to debates, and as Wayne has already said, kind of a BFD.

This is huge news for the state of Texas, which hasn’t seen a true general election debate in over a decade for the office of Lieutenant Governor.  There also hasn’t been a general election Gubernatorial debate since 2006.  Many people may downplay that a general election debate is really all that important, but it serves an important purpose in presenting both sides of the political argument, especially to low-information voters or those that don’t pay attention to the election until the last minute.  For a very long time in Texas, voters have been trained to believe that there is only one main viewpoint in this state…. Republican. 

Unlike Wayne, I'm not going to trumpet the greatness of this development in terms of how much it helps Texas Democrats.  The next (good) step would be to have all of the LG candidates included.

But in case that does not happen, you should avail yourself of the handy tool the TexTrib has provided to see everyone listed on your ballot for November.  For the state's most powerful legislative post, the names include Green Party nominee Chandra Courtney and Libertarian challenger Robert Butler.  The TexTrib still lists independent candidate (and previously 2006 lite guv Dem nominee) Maria Luisa Alvarado as running, but an unnamed source told me in June at the Texas Democratic Party convention that she was out.  Alvarado indicated she would make a bid against LVDP as a Dem last fall, but declined to do that, then early this year stated her intention to compete as an indy.  By all appearances, that has also been abandoned. 

As I mentioned back in January, a run by Alvarado -- and the same goes for Brandon de Hoyos had he emerged as the Lib nominee -- would have dented Van de Putte's chances simply by virtue of a Spanish surname appearing on the statewide ticket.  That neither de Hoyos nor Alvarado made the cut helps Van de Putte significantly.  So her luck is holding, too.

Here's a brief message from Courtney:

Kuff has more.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

One way to do this is for VDP to show up, if near her regular campaign schedule, at the other debate spots whether Patrick is there or not. Especially if she's got local business support.