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2010 Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Debate Liveblog

George Nassar's picture

Looking for coverage of the second debate, held January 29? Go to this link.

No, they're not Democrats. But I'm sure I'm not the only one interested in what the three Republican candidates for Governor have to say about the state of the state and how they plan to get us out of the mess they got us into. Besides, the Tea Partiers are represented — how could this not be fun?

The debate will start at 7pm CST, and we'll be following along with the action here. Feel free to join us with comments or send me an email at, and I'll throw your ideas into the fray.

EDIT: You can now also get my analysis of and opinion on the outcome of the debate at that link.

7:00pm The live feed has just come up. I was a bit concerned, as they were advertising a 6:55pm start time, so I figured I'd point you guys to the Perry TV ad released literally minutes before the start of this debate. I just heard about it, and haven't seen it yet. Anybody know if there are any good KBH swipes in there? Comment or email and let me know.

Apparently the debate is funded by Lockheed-Martin and the AARP. The latter is on record as supporting health care reform, so I'm curious to hear what we'll be hearing about that tonight.

KERA News Director Shelley Kofler will be moderating. The candidates are sitting governor Rick Perry and senior senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, plus Debra Medina, who is apparently a registered nurse and ex-chair of the Wharton County Republican Party, as well as that she took the Texas Republican Party to court. Maybe a little bit of a thin resume compared to the other candidates. 1-minute answers, with unspecified followups as decided by the moderator, plus the chance to ask each opponent a question.

First question: All of you have been critical of the federal government, and Perry and Medina have both said they understand why people would want to secede. Explain, and give your favorite federal program.

Perry starts: his favorite federal program is the United States military. Three things the government should do well: deliver our mail, maintain the military, and protect our borders. "I guess one out of three ain't bad." So he has a beef with the Post Office?

Gets asked about nullification too, which has come up with regard to healthcare. It's basically us saying we won't follow a federal program. He dodges with asking KBH to stop healthcare and such programs before they get passed. Gets asked the question again more directly, and dodges again. Asked about the hypocrisy of using federal funds while talking bad about the government, he says we send plenty of money to the federal government in the way of gas taxes and income tax, and when it comes back to us without strings attached, he'd be happy to take it.

7:08 Same question to KBH; she also likes the military, and uses a little of the time to say that yes, she's fighting against the "government encroachment" and "tax increases" that Perry tried to imply she wasn't on. Called Perry on BS for getting transportation money back from the federal government -- Perry said we got 70% back; KBH says she fought to get that up to 92% and currently has a bill to opt out of giving that money to the federal government altogether. "For him to say 70 is absolutely wrong, and I think he knows it." Ouch!

As far as eliminating specific government programs, she didn't dodge like Perry did -- she says she'd eliminate the support of ACORN. Of course, that's not a federal program, so that'd be hard to nullify.

Debra Medina starts her answer with thanking Texans for allowing a "regular Texan" to sit with a governor and a senator. Subtext: I'm not part of the political elite. I'm one of you. Not bad for a rookie. Says they all like military, but for them to claim they've supported them is weak when we've done such a disservice to our veterans. She doesn't like the federal health care changes, but thinks the EPA should be a "close second" on the list of federal programs to opt out of.

7:12 A Facebook question asking about the state of unemployment in Texas. Debra Medina give the standard fiscal-conservative answer: get the federal government out of our hair, get the EPA out of our hair, and we create more wealth and jobs. You'd think we'd be done with that sort of short-term thinking from conservatives by now, but then again, you wouldn't expect different from Ms. Medina either.

Perry doesn't feel like answering this question either -- he rejects the premise. "Texas is the number 3 place in America for small business." Created "100,000 jobs." The moderator notes that we may have created those, but we lost more than that over that period. Perry says no, that's not the case, and then uses '07-'08 numbers. The moderator and all other candidates call him on it. He does make a good point that no other state in the nation was creating jobs in '09 either, but it comes across as a tin ear — look, Rick, I get that you think that Texas is sitting pretty as far as the unemployment situation goes, but you're the only one. You might want to quit talking like the problem doesn't exist.

KBH follows up to nail him on job losses, and to strike from the right by blaming the problem on increases in taxes due to governmental mismanagement. The moderator asks that she stick to talking about what she wants to do to fix the problem, not what Perry did wrong. Ouch again. Quick answer is effectively "cut taxes."

Debra Medina criticizes the growth of government, I think? She notes that we lost 14,000 jobs in the private sector and gained 156,000 in government. The question was what are we doing about unemployment, right? Is employing more Texans supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing?

Perry asks for the right to reply -- says he's cut taxes more than any other governor in America. KBH says that he also presided over the largest tax increase on business in America -- specifically, the business margins tax. Perry says he was responding to how businesses wanted the tax structure to be. Process answer -- that'll also fall on deaf ears. You can't govern over the biggest tax increase and say you're cutting taxes. KBH is doing pretty well here.

7:21 Abortion, next. KBH gives the right-wing version of her abortion stance -- she thinks it should be much rarer, she doesn't like partial-birth abortions, she doesn't want abortion havens. She tries to defend the overturn of Roe v. Wade from the right because of the creation of abortion havens and allowing partial-birth abortions. So she's saying it shouldn't be overturned because federal restrictions should be strengthened. I guess she'd *have* to defend this from the right, but I don't know how many people would buy the argument. Probably the best she can do, but still even the fact that the question of her adherence to the Republican party line had to come up is a strike for her.

Debra Medina gets asked about being against gun registration or any gun restrictions at all in the light of the many gun-related tragedies, most recently at Fort Hood. She says that gun registration has historically been used for only one thing -- taking them away. I'm sure the gun-owning citizens of states that already require gun registration would disagree. She is then asked if she still stands by her statement that private citizens should be "as well or better" armed than the government, and she cites the Second Amendment in saying they should. While we're at it, I'm sure we can give private citizens the responsibility for enforcing law, since they'll be the only ones able to do it. Vigilantism, anyone? On the bright side, she says doesn't take her concealed handgun into grocery stores. Makes me feel a little safer, at least.

Perry gets asked a question on eminent domain and landowners feeling like they lost their shirts over these things. Perry tries to level the tort reform argument on this -- the state is strong because people know they can come here and not be frivolously sued. Ideological purity, but no relief to those that lost their shirts. Ideology can't trump losing your home. Again with the tin ear. Who prepped this guy, anyway?

7:30 Now for candidates asking each other questions. Perry asks KBH about consistency -- she said in late '07 that she wouldn't vote for the bank bailout, then she voted for it, then said it was probably a bad vote, and then voted for the auto bailout too.

KBH's answer: when Bush came to Sen. Cornyn and me when people couldn't get loans for their businesses that we help him shore up our financial institutions -- he hated to do it, but it needed to be done. And she never said she wouldn't vote for it -- she said she wouldn't give $700 billion to anyone, and she didn't -- she voted against distributing the second half. And then she calls him for being for it before he was against it -- he wrote a letter to the federal government in support of the bailout and the Republican Governor's Association backed him. Some he said/she said on what the letter actually said -- Perry says that's not what it said, of course. Wish I had time to look up the letter. Anybody want to do that?

7:34 Debra Medina then gets to ask Perry a question, and called him "a Democrat before he was a Republican" for managing Gore's campaign (?), and Perry tries to defend his Republican bona fides of tax cuts and whatnot over the past few years. Debra Medina follows up by citing a source I missed (anyone?) that Texas' debt has tripled in Perry's Tenure. KBH gangs up by telling Debra Medina that in meetings KBH has attended, she says that Perry says that he's cut property taxes by 1/3 and then asks who has had their property taxes drop, and no one raises their hand, and what is her experience in the meetings she's seen? Red meat for the base -- they're both happy to beat on Perry for failed policies.

A softball on the Advanced Directives Act which allows health care facilities to pull the plug on patients when it's considered medically futile. Debra Medina gives the only interesting answer -- same as everyone else's, except she lays the blame at Perry's feet for being all talk about pro-life issues. The moderator notes that this passed while Perry was Lite Guv, and asks if he was against it then -- he doesn't recall.

Another softball on constitutional interpretation and states' rights -- just an excuse to talk bad about the federal government, and that's basically what KBH does -- feds shouldn't encroach on states' rights.

KBH's turn for a question, to Perry -- you say you're a fiscal conservative, but you've raised business taxes by 80%. Perry: "it's hard to recognize the truth when you've been in Washington for 16 years." Ouch! He's cut business taxes; we have the second lowest tax burden on businesses in America. That's why business comes to Texas. Governor -- *no one will believe you*. When you turn a deaf ear to state unemployment, no one will think you're telling the truth about bringing business to Texas -- if they're all here, why can't we get jobs? KBH says basically that -- that Perry's raising the burden on businesses and calling it a tax cut, and that keeping that up is a poor tactic for someone who's "been in the seat for 10 years and asking to make it 14."

Perry gets to ask his second question, and asks one to KBH again instead of Medina: will you resign the Senate? KBH answers anyway, and says yes. He then asks Medina her question -- I missed that. Anyone want to fill me in?

7:47 Debra Medina gets asked what she calls "the toughest question of the night," about tax structuring in Texas. She defends using a sales tax as a primary source of funding, that exemptions on food and drugs like we have now makes it the least regressive of any option (which is patently false, even if we exempted all food, which we don't), and says we shouldn't have property taxes.

KBH gives her business bona fides before talking about cutting taxes across the board and consolidating state agencies and scrubbing our expenses, which we haven't done in the past 10 years (hint!). Perry calls her on what agencies we should merge -- turns out she has details, or at least enough detail to look competent and knowledgeable on the issue for the brief remaining time she had to answer.

Perry uses his time to hit KBH on criticizing people that have been "in the trenches" in Texas and have already cut the budget while she's raised the deficit ceiling in the Fed nine times. KBH gets to respond, of course, and says that he's doing the same by attacking those trying to prevent the health care takeover, etc. Please keep this up, guys. We're loving it!

7:53 Question on border security -- Perry again attacks KBH with his time, saying she voted for sanctuary cities -- which she directly calls false. He said/she said. Debra Medina takes the opportunity to nail both of them on politicians not doing enough.

7:54 Closing statements. Debra Medina, oddly, *doesn't* attack her opponents on it, and spends the majority of the time on campaign stumps: strengthening Texas' sovereignty, protecting the border, etc.

Perry thanks everybody for the opportunity, and "reminds" everyone that the reason we have the freedom to do this is -- you can see where this is going already, it's the standard segue -- because of our men and women in uniform. You know, I always wonder if some of our heroes in uniform feel a little pandered to when their service is referred to on every possible occasion, no matter how related to the Armed Forces. Maybe that's just me -- I think the folks willing to die for our country deserve better than being reduced to a standard Republican soundbite. The rest of the closing argument is conservative bona fides. I'm sure he feels he needs them, after the clobbering he got.

KBH is the only one that uses some of her time to attack Perry, for not being conservative enough. Nothing too surprising outside of that.

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