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Abbott Says He'll Debate Valdez This Fall, But She Wants To Avoid Friday Night Football

Abbott: Sue Ogrocki; Valdez: Richard W. Rodriguez
Left: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking in Dallas, Texas, in May 2018. Right: Democratic challenger Lupe Valdez speaking in Fort Worth, Texas, in June 2018.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic challenger, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, have agreed — to a point — to debate at least once this fall.

And if the event comes off as proposed on Sept. 28, there will be some stiff competition: Friday night football and the first day of the State Fair of Texas.

The debate was announced late Wednesday afternoon by the TV station chain Nexstar. The Irving-based company owns stations in small cities and towns across Texas, from Wichita Falls to Waco, from Tyler to El Paso. Its only big-city station is KXAN, the NBC station in Austin. The campaign said the debate will also air on partner stations in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio and be broadcast online.

Valdez responded by tweeting, "Thanks @GregAbbott_TX for accepting a debate! We’re in and always happy to discuss our vision for a Texas that works for all. We haven’t agreed to the terms yet - but seriously, during Friday Night Lights? Texans deserve better. Call me, maybe?"

On Thursday morning, the Valdez campaign told KERA that it’s still negotiating on a location and date. She wants to avoid Friday nights and thinks the debate shouldn’t be held on either candidate’s home turf. The campaign did not lay out a preferred time and place for a debate.

The Dallas Morning News points out that Abbott's strategy might mirror former Gov. Rick Perry's in 2006. The Republican who's now U.S. Energy Secretary accepted only one debate invitation that year, and faced a Democrat and two independents in a head-to-head matchup with Friday night high school football.

Rick Holter is KERA's vice president of news. He oversees news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News has earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.