Lupe Valdez and Andrew White, the Democrats vying for a chance to face Gov. Greg Abbott in November, are preparing for their only debate of the primary campaign, to be held Friday in Austin. It won’t be broadcast, but will be livestreamed by KXAN-TV in Austin and aired by Spectrum News in Austin and San Antonio. And the Republican incumbent isn’t waiting around to see who will win the May 22 runoff. Abbott has released a campaign ad calling Valdez “too liberal for Texas.”
Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, says Abbott would prefer to run against Valdez.
“He’s definitely turning the volume up to 11,” Rottinghaus says. “He had signaled that he wanted to run against Valdez because, I think, the matchup for him is much better than it is for White.”
Rottinghaus says Abbott’s efforts could play into White’s hands, though, since one of the centrist Democrat’s arguments to voters is that he, not Valdez, can beat Abbott.
The race between Valdez and White has changed considerably since she came in first on primary day in March.
“There’s been some concern that Valdez’s ability to handle tough questions isn’t all there – basic questions about her time as sheriff, and how she interacted with the federal government with respect to immigration issues,” Rottinghaus says.
In Friday’s debate, Valdez needs to articulate her progressive stance on immigration and how she dealt with the federal government during her time as Dallas County Sheriff.
White, who is the son of former Governor Mark White, is a Houston businessman, who’s positioning himself as a political outsider.
“He needs to press the case that he’s one of the only candidates that’s presented a series of plans, and these plans have been panned to some degree because the funding has been a little unusual,” Rottinghaus says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.