GOP Gov. Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O'Rourke to square off in Texas gubernatorial debate: live updates




  • In Politics
  • 2022-09-30 23:59:32Z
  • By USA TODAY

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke will face off in the first and likely only debate Friday night in the state's gubernatorial election this year.

They'll go head-to-head starting at 7 p.m. Central Time at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg.

The debate is O'Rourke's chance to close the polling gap between him and Abbott. Texas voters have indicated a leaning for Abbott, with Abbott leading O'Rourke by more than 5 percentage points in several different polls.

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The race has drawn national attention for O'Rourke, who ran a close senatorial race against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and a brief presidential run in 2020. O'Rourke's name recognition and firebrand personality have Democrats hopeful he can flip the governor's mansion.

Issues that have popped up in other competitive races in the midterms are expected to also show themselves in tonight's debate: abortion, a migration crisis and high inflation rates.

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Abbott 7 points ahead of O'Rourke in latest Quinnipiac poll

Abbott holds a 7-percentage point edge over O'Rourke, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University. It's the latest of several surveys that have found a single-digit lead for Abbott, but the difference is well outside the margin of error.

The Quinnipiac poll found 53% of likely voters favoring Abbott and 46% favoring O'Rourke. Perhaps most worrisome for O'Rourke, nearly all voters - 96% - who support a candidate in the race say their minds are made up about how they will vote.

Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor, said the poll confirms that Republicans and Democrats are largely unified around their respective candidates. The poll found that 96% of Republicans favored Abbott, while 96% of Democrats favored O'Rourke.

"There's not a lot of wiggle room," he said. "This is going to be a very base versus base election, and there are likely a lot of people in the middle who may not choose to vote."

-- Skye Seipp 

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Who is Beto O'Rourke?

O'Rourke has been a household name in Texas politics since challenging, and nearly defeating, Cruz in 2018. His campaign that year raised $80 million, a then-record for the most ever raised by a Senate candidate.

After announcing his run in March 2019, O'Rourke ran a brief presidential campaign before later dropping out in November of that year.

During this year's gubernatorial campaign, O'Rourke has been vocal on the issue of gun control following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas this May, as well as his opposition to the Texas Legislature's near-total abortion ban.

O'Rourke previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, as the representative for Texas' 16th district, encompassing his hometown of El Paso. He has lived in El Paso since 1998, after a few years spent in New York City where he graduated from Columbia University in 1995.

-- Savannah Kuchar

Beto O
Beto O'Rourke, Democratic candidate for Texas governor, speaks during a town hall meeting at the McAllen Creative Incubator Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in McAllen,Texas.  

Who is Greg Abbott?

Governor of Texas since 2015, Abbott has focused much of his campaign this year on the economy and border security. For months, Abbott has continued a state-funded program to bus immigrants from Texas to Democratic-led cities around the country, including Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Abbott is speculated to have his eyes on a presidential nomination in 2024, though he has not made any official comment on his intent to run.

A Texas native, Abbott was attorney general in the state for over a decade, the longest to ever serve in that position. He has also served as a justice of the Texas Supreme Court and a state district judge in Harris County, which includes Houston.

Abbott is a graduate of University of Texas at Austin, with a law degree from Vanderbilt University. He has been paralyzed from the waist down since 1984, after a tree fell on him while jogging.

-- Savannah Kuchar

Gov.
Gov.  

Expect to hear about the southern border

Expect to hear a lot about the migrant crisis from both candidates tonight.

Abbott started a state-funded program to bus migrants to major metro cities run by Democrats as an attempt to send a message to the White House in April. The first bus dropped off migrants in Washington D.C.

"(President) Biden refuses to come see the mess he's made at the border," Abbott tweeted when the first bus arrived in Washington. "So Texas is bringing the border to him."

The program has caught on with other Republicans. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made national headlines after flying around 50 migrants to Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Democrats have criticized the moves as inhumane. In a speech at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, President Biden said "Republicans are playing politics with human beings, using them as props."

In an interview on The Daily Show, O'Rourke denounced the moves as "cruel and unkind" political stunts.

-- Ken Tran

A woman, who boarded a bus for migrants in Texas, helps a child after being dropped off within view of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, on August 11, 2022.
A woman, who boarded a bus for migrants in Texas, helps a child after being dropped off within view of the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, on August 11, 2022.  

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas governor's debate live updates: Abbott and O'Rourke to spar

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