Undecided Voters Score This Year’s Only Gubernatorial Debate

Focus group members say Lupe Valdez effectively defended red flag gun safety laws but that Gov. Greg Abbott was the stronger performer.

By Joy Diaz & Rhonda FanningOctober 1, 2018 7:29 am

The sole gubernatorial debate before the Nov. 6 election took place Friday night between incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Texas Standard’s Joy Diaz watched the debate with a diverse group of voters. They agreed that Abbott won in the end. But Diaz says the observers did believe Valdez had some shining moments.

“Everybody said the Democratic contender Lupe Valdez did really well. She did not hold any punches, however she did not deliver a knockout punch,” Diaz says.

Diaz says one of Valdez’ best moments was her discussion of red flag laws, which permit family members to petition the state to temporarily take away firearms from a loved-one they deem to be a threat to themselves or others. Valdez is in favor of such laws. 

Diaz says Valdez also showed strength when addressing the state’s Rainy Day Fund, which she said should have been used to help people in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. 

“So that was the memorable line there: ‘Governor, it rained,’ talking about the close to $10 billion that Texas does have in savings,” Diaz says, quoting Valdez.  

Diaz says one takeaway from her conversation with the focus group was that few people recognized Valdez’ name. That’s despite the fact that the focus group was diverse: it was evenly divided by gender and race and included a mix of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.

Abbott had several high points. Diaz says one of his strongest moments was when he confronted Valdez about the Dream Act; he talked about the flaws in how the law was passed, written and structured. The governor’s argument was that the Dream Act says students must be on a pathway to legal status but it doesn’t not provide a way to make that happen.

Diaz says Valdez said that wasn’t the fault of the “dreamers” themselves.

In the end, Diaz says most people in the focus group still said they were undecided about who to vote for, but a majority did say that Abbott was the stronger performer in the debate.

Written by Acacia Coronado.