The 10 Democratic candidates for governor appeared at a forum this evening in San Angelo. Each candidate had five minutes to make opening statements, which took about half of the event. Most of the candidates criticized Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and President Trump, but they remained civil toward each other.
Former Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez called for state leaders to “serve in ways that do not harm” Texans. “We have to stop the foolishness,” such as the bathroom bill and address income inequality, particularly in rural parts of the state.
Houston entrepreneur Andrew White said, “an outsider with a fresh perspective” is needed to “fix this mess.” White said he would “start by giving our teachers a $5,000, much-needed pay raise” and pay for it by “closing a $5 billion property tax loophole” benefitting commercial property owners.
Some of the other candidates expressed their policy priorities. Dallas businessman Jeffrey Payne supported an increase in the gasoline tax and an end to building toll roads. San Antonio hospice chaplain Tom Wakely would repeal open carry laws, end private prisons and increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Houston businessman Joe Mumbach called for a return to “unconditional love.” Dallas financial analyst Adrian Ocegueda called for broad structural changes to the economy, infrastructure and environmental regulation.
Austin resident James Jolly Clark pledged to build desalinization plants. Houston resident and frequent candidate Demetria Smith called for more focus on police violence. San Antonio retired educator and 2016 RRC nominee Grady Yarbrough said Abbott was “strong” on abortion but has been “completely absent” on health care. Former Balch Springs Mayor Cedric Davis said he wanted to use the “rainy day” fund to support education.
The event was shown live on the Tom Green Co. Democratic Party’s Facebook page and can be viewed here.
Valdez and White are widely presumed to be the frontrunners. We caution against that assumption. Both candidates have relative low name ID. Valdez just officially kicked off her campaign yesterday, while White is running an unconventional Democratic campaign. Yarbrough has run statewide before. He received more votes in the three-way 2016 primary for railroad commissioner than Wendy Davis received in the 2014 gubernatorial primary, and he has never received less than 26% in a contested primary election. In a 10-candidate field, 26% is likely enough to make a runoff.
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