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Lupe Valdez Says Yes To A Debate — Just Not The One Gov. Greg Abbott Has Accepted

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.

Democrat Lupe Valdez accepted an invitation Wednesday to debate Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — it's just not the same debate Abbott agreed to last week.

The former Dallas County sheriff said yes to a one-hour debate on Monday, Oct. 8, at 6 p.m. at the University of Houston. Hosted by Houston's ABC13 and Univision45, the debate would be broadcast on television stations across Texas and livestreamed.

That debate would be in English, and would include Spanish translation and questions in Spanish.

“The future of our state should be taken seriously and candidates should be eager to share our vision for that future," Valdez said in a statement. "So let’s have a debate where all of Texas can be a part of the conversation."

Last week, Abbott's campaign accepted an invitation from Irving-based Nexstar Media Group to debate Valdez on Friday, Sept. 28, in Austin. Nexstar would carry the debate on its 12 stations across Texas as well as partner stations in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. It would also be broadcast online. 

Valdez's campaign tells KERA she doesn't plan to attend that, or any, debate that goes head-to-head with Friday night high school football. That's one of four conditions the campaign laid out for a any debate on Wednesday. The other three are:

  • Televised live and available via livestream.
  • Includes a live in-studio audience.
  • Includes a Spanish-language media partner and questions in Spanish.

Valdez doesn’t plan to attend the Sept. 28 debate because it doesn’t fit all of those parameters, her campaign told KERA. But they’re still in discussions with Nexstar to set up a debate that fits those criteria.
“Governor Abbott’s previous debate acceptance is hollow if the audience is shut out and the event is scheduled so no one is home to see it,” Valdez said in the statement Wednesday. “If he is truly committed to a forum for and by the people of Texas, he should accept our conditions.”

In response to Valdez’s comments, Abbott's campaign sent this statement, "We’ve agreed to the debate on the 28th and we look forward to our opponent accepting that invitation."

Christopher Connelly is a reporter covering issues related to financial instability and poverty for KERA’s One Crisis Away series. In 2015, he joined KERA to report on Fort Worth and Tarrant County. From Fort Worth, he also focused on politics and criminal justice stories.