Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fight Night II

Wendy Davis has one more chance to share a debate stage with the Republican front-runner in the race for Texas governor, and if the recent past is any guide, she’ll use most of her hour in Dallas to crank up the heat on Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The debate, which gets under way at 8 p.m. Tuesday, is the second of two televised encounters. At the last debate, held Sept. 19 in Edinburg, Davis issued one attack after another on Abbott, who mostly ignored her accusations and stuck to his rehearsed lines.

It will be interesting to see if Davis can pin Abbott down in some way about his most recent scandal.  He's been awfully slippery so far.

The candidates to succeed Gov. Rick Perry head toward their final debate Tuesday locked in a tussle over one of his signature programs, an economic incentives fund engulfed by a scandal whose political fallout widened over the weekend.

Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, on Monday called for an independent investigation into Republican rival Greg Abbott's role in the controversy, which began Thursday with the release of a scathing report by state auditors that found the Texas Enterprise Fund doled out $222 million to 11 entities that did not submit formal applications or were not required to create jobs. Democrats accuse Abbott, the attorney general at the time, of turning a blind eye while accepting campaign contributions from people with ties to grant recipients and covering up the fact that they did not apply for the money.

The revelations have emboldened Democrats on the eve of the debate in Dallas, the stakes of which already were high given Davis' underdog status and the few opportunities she has had to engage Abbott face to face.

The first of these, and the one last night between the two lite gov contenders, reveal the debates for what they are: a big pep rally for the base voters of the two parties.  That's important, but does nothing to expand the electorate, especially when the Republicans only speak in the language the most deranged of their base understands.

Watch for this news.

A new independent poll on the governor’s race by the Texas Lyceum, scheduled for release Wednesday, should provide some clues about where the governor’s race is headed with about a month to go until the election.

Update: While we wait for their numbers on statewide races, here are some appetizers.

Nearly a third of Texans say issues related to the border are among the most important problems facing the state today, far outweighing other concerns, according a poll released Tuesday.

Eighteen percent of Texans who were surveyed picked immigration as the top issue, while 13 percent chose border security. Education came in second with 11 percent of Texans calling it the most important problem, according to the survey, which was conducted Sept. 11-25 by the Texas Lyceum, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

When it came to the top issue facing the country, 15 percent of respondents ranked the economy first and 8 percent each said immigration and national security/terrorism. Only 2 percent called the economy the most important problem facing Texas.

With respect to both Abbott's and Dan Patrick's opposition to abortion in cases of rape or incest...

The survey asked respondents to elaborate on their views on abortion, an issue that has been repeatedly raised in the governor’s race. Fifty-four percent of Texans said a woman should be able to have an abortion if there is a “strong chance of a serious defect in the baby,” circumstances similar to those revealed in Democrat Wendy Davis’ memoir.

Abortion has also emerged as an issue in the governor’s race as the Davis campaign accuses Republican Greg Abbott of opposing it even in cases of rape or incest. The poll found 68 percent of Texans believe abortion should be possible under those circumstances.

We should also have another YouGov poll out shortly as well.

Update: In a related development, Abbott has been forbidden from saying 'Obama' in tonight's debate, as a matter of public safety.  You can be certain he will disavow responsibility for any collateral damage.  And Wayne Slater has five things to watch for.

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