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Second 2010 Republican Gubernatorial Debate Liveblog

George Nassar's picture

Two debates for Republican gubernatorial candidates in one month -- and Debra Medina in both of them? Who would've guessed that two months ago?

Well, as much as the upstart candidate must be loving the earned media, Democrats are likely equally excited about seeing Senator Hutchison and Governor Perry trade blows again this evening. So we'll be liveblogging tonight's debate here, starting shortly before the debate time of 7pm. Come join us after the "read more" jump!

6:53pm Was that Rick Perry telling Debra Medina that "prayer works" as the feed comes back on? ...nah. Must've been the moderators he was talking to. But my way is *much* funnier.

Hey -- turns out that BOR is liveblogging this one too. Link over here.

Ooh, and so is the Texas Tribune! Here.

6:57 Somebody needs to tell the WFAA guys when their Internet live stream is going. Fascinating little interchange there now between the Governor and who I'm guessing must be a WFAA staffer about the Buckeyes. And apparently two of the candidates are wearing blue... amazing what you can find out by listening in before the debate!

6:59 And finally we have the "professional" feed from WFAA. Little blurb on the three candidates and what they're here for. In case you're wondering, it's KBH and Medina wearing blue. Perry's in a dark suit. Not that anyone cares. No studio audience, so they go straight into the first question.

Perry: was the Trans Texas Corridor a mistake? No, of course not. Perry makes no mistakes. The backpedaling on the TTC was TOTALLY intentional. --huh. He gave a weak answer, addressing the need for transportation generally but not the TTC, and yet there was no followup. This might be setting the tone for the debate.

7:02 KBH given an equal softball on concealed carry vs. security in the Capitol, referring to the recent shots fired near the building. Shorter KBH: I love concealed carry. And I don't want metal detectors in the Capitol. I'm a conservative. Have been all along. Really!

Medina gets the only semi-real question, about calling Guv a "frat boy" and about the tone of the discussion. She avoids addressing what she said, and says her campaign is addressing real issues she hopes no one avoids.

Introductions and rules -- oh, apparently they *will* make candidates answer the questions they're asked. I wonder when they'll start on that.

7:06 Wayne Slater asks everyone that, well, TxDOT needs $332 million. We need more revenue. How do we get it: Fuel tax, debt, or toll roads? Gotta support one! KBH rejects the premise, saying we don't know how much they're misspending, and that there would never be a new tax without an "election of the people." Huh? Statewide referendums on taxes? Medina does the same, saying we can't trust their numbers. Funds should not go to the Fed; we should be able to opt out of the federal gas tax and use all those funds ourselves.

Perry plays the process card, telling KBH that the Lege already audits TxDOT, and if she doesn't like the job they're doing, she needs to say that. "I cut spending." KBH, in a rebuttal, defends her work in Congress saying that Texas is getting all of its gas tax back for local transportation.

7:10 Would you require all employers to use the E-Verify system to assure that they're hiring legally? Medina is against it, because it's a federal program and we can apparently do better. (How are we doing so far?) Perry also says that the federal government is the problem. They haven't secured the border, he says, so apparently that makes E-Verify a bad idea. Hutchison is the only one that sticks up for E-Verify, saying that it's the best system we have to assure legality.

Medina, in rebuttal: "We have a system to verify legality in Texas. We use I-9 forms. All business owners know that." Yeah, except that the I-9 is a federal form. Oops!

7:13How would you balance the state budget now that we have a shortfall? Perry answers first -- probably didn't want to do that. He basically says we'd stick with what we have -- work with the institutions and officials we have now (cites Todd Staples) to shrink the budget.

KBH jumps on that -- unnecessary spending for failed jobs programs that Perry's pushed (the Enterprise Fund), etc.

Medina: "unfortunate that the Governor isn't taking his own fiscal advice." Comptroller's notes apparently say that we've seen a 13% increase in spending in the executive branch. Nice gotcha! Must eliminate property taxes in Texas and introduce a sales tax. It's a shame neither of the other two will call her on how crazy that idea is and how bad the numbers she uses are -- too process-heavy.

Perry gets the rebuttal, and goes to defend the Enterprise Fund by basically citing different numbers. Fact-checkers on that as we speak, I'm sure.

7:18 One-on-ones: apparently more in-depth questions. First up: KBH asked about the abortion question. She *must* have prepped for this, right? Wayne Slater asks for a yes or no. She says, "no in this sense..." and goes to explain. Senator, you needed to make that a "no." You can then follow that with a "here's why." Boo on whoever does your debate prep.

She does a poor job of explaining *again*, to boot. She says what she said in the last debate, which is that she is pro-life, but is afraid that shooting down Roe v. Wade. would create abortion sanctuaries. Wayne follows up with the predictable question: so you're saying that there would be *more* abortions if we rescinded Roe v. Wade? That's where she really flops. Could've gone the states' rights path with that, said that "well, now we can prohibit it outright in Texas," but she tried to defend the general premise.

Question 2: You're against the Democrats' "big spending" health care plan, but you've been for Republican big spending in the past. Man, there is no good answer for that one. These guys just worked up gotcha questions. Should be interesting to see what the other candidates' questions are. She sticks with bashing the Democratic health care plan -- with the audience they have, that's probably the smartest move she's made tonight.

And the third is regarding her resigning from the Senate. She again confirmed that she would. Doesn't that jeopardize the seat? "There is not a scintilla of a chance that a Democrat will be elected to the Senate." Cites the Massachusetts special election, of course.

7:26 Medina first gets asked about her speaking appearances regarding secession. She says that she was actually supporting nullification. (Which pretty much every constitutional scholar in existence has said is unquestionably unconstitutional.)

Next question: you're all for personal liberties. What about gay marriage? Well, the state has voted against it, and that was a decision of the people. Funny -- the federal government is government, but the state government is the people? What if the state voted to rescind your concealed carry license? How would you feel about your personal liberties then? The point is, if you have a right to your personal liberties, they're protected *despite* the will of the majority.

Not that any conservatives listening will get that point. From that point of view, it was a pretty good answer.

Lastly, she gets pushed on the idea of a state sales tax replacing the property tax. Wow, does she run away from addressing details on that. She says the sales tax replacement would be between 6 and 14 cents. Um, it's at 6 and change now.

7:30 Perry's one-on-one next. Illegal immigration and in-state tuition first, regarding a bill allowing illegal immigrants to get in-state tuition after promising to apply for legal residency. He says that is being enforced, "is his understanding," by the TEA. Uh huh. Fact checkers, again, will have a field day.

Second, trying to mandate the HPV vaccine to much Republican opposition: was it a mistake? No -- I considered it a pro-life issue.

Third: will you serve all four years if you get another term? If I live that long. That was kind of dark! I thought he was trying to cast himself as the strapping, virile type. Either that or he's paying *way* too much for his hairdos.

7:36 A Jeopardy section? Really? Outside of Rick Perry not knowing the Texas employment numbers in 2009 (wow! How'd the preppers miss that one?), nobody embarrassed themselves completely with any of those (frankly silly) questions, because the only difficult ones were way too obscure for the average Texan to care about.

7:40 KBH gets asked a viewer question about illegal immigration, and what she'd do about it. Get DPS to help the border patrol, apparently.

Medina shoots down a corporate income tax to get some revenue from the folks that have benefited so much from tax breaks. "All taxes are a drag on the economy." Well, at least she's consistent. And as Texas is clearly OK with running broke anyway... what's money good for anyway? Besides schools, roads, police and fire departments...

Perry rambles about teachers getting shorted on Social Security benefits -- it's a "debacle," and yet both of them want less money to go to the federal government. Way to dodge answering how to solve the debacle!

7:43 Wayne calls the Enterprise Fund one with a "checkered past" and asks why so much was spent on A&M. Well, he answered it the best way possible. Rejects the premise -- cites the positives of the plan, defends the recent restructuring of contracts under the Fund that were beneficial to businesses and footed by Texas taxpayers.

KBH gets asked about TxDOT, cites percentages about their wastes of money, and then quickly proceeds to get back on Perry and attacking the Enterprise Fund. Also the right approach, really. As much as I would've loved to hear a good TxDOT answer (and as much as I know that no one on stage has one), it would've been too process-heavy an answer anyway.

And besides, the more mud slung, the better, right?

Medina again gets to defend her stance on taxes. Did she pay these guys off or something? Her -- I'm going to go out on a limb and call it her "base" -- is eating this stuff up. And some of her base comes naturally from Perry's base...

7:50 Lost an update there. I'll try to catch up. More one-on-one questions: Perry on the TTC and turning free lanes into toll lanes -- Perry notes that that died when the legislature prohibited it, in a bill he signed. Wayne Slater tries to ask why that wasn't his original stance, but he bobbles the question and Perry takes the opportunity to drown him in process.

KBH also asked about the TTC, and she tries to take a little of Medina's thunder -- toll roads are against the spirit of Texas, apparently. Why not? It's a safe tack, and it lets her cast Perry as an insider. Ooh, nice touch -- she's taking credit for the federal amendment prohibiting the tolling of federal highways, and notes that the biggest lobbyist against that amendment was TxDOT. Indirect Perry slam!

Closing arguments. Perry's is pretty old news by now: Texas is doing great! We're number 1 in lots of cool things! KBH -- huh. She seems like she's trying to shift her message to specifically play with the Medina-style conservatives. I don't know if moving away from the simplicity of her original message to try to blend that with the populist schtick is wise, but it is interesting. Medina did stick with her original message as well -- fortunately for her, since she's new at this, it's not old yet. Power to the people and all that jazz. "The only endorsement I'm interested in is yours."

And that's a wrap! Analysis up next.

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