Democratic candidates for Texas governor tackle immigration, education

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Days before early voting starts for the runoff election, Lupe Valdez and Andrew White faced off in a debate in Austin. Both are vying for the Democratic nomination for governor. Whoever wins on May 22 will face Gov. Greg Abbott in the general election. Early voting starts Monday, May 14. 

Friday night’s debate touched on immigration, abortion and how Texas should fund education. Here are some of the main talking points from the evening. 

Immigration

Valdez’s response: “I had to make imperfect choices, and I did what is best for the community.”

Valdez recently had a few missteps in speaking about her involvement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. At the debate, she defended those choices. She says that being a leader requires making tough choices and she did what she thought was best for the community. She also claimed that she was the only candidate for the governorship that has fought anti-immigration laws for years. As governor, she would make sure that immigrants received humane services.

White’s response: “We need a humanitarian response to our border, not a military response.”

On immigration, White was clear in his disapproval of Gov. Abbott’s decisions. He spoke of the dangerous and often life-threatening process that it takes crossing our border and said he would work to make it safer. Additionally, he discussed making asylum status more accessible. He also addressed the recurring issue of his investment in a company that sells a border security technology that can tell whether or not there are people hiding in a vehicle. He was adamant that this technology was about safety. That being said, concerns were brought to him by Jolt Texas, a Latino movement that recently endorsed him. He is now in the process of divesting from that business.

Abortion

White: “My personal opinions are my personal opinions… I trust women to make their own healthcare decisions.”

White is personally pro-life but was insistent that his personal stance would not affect his legislative agenda. He promised to veto any legislation that tried to limit abortion rights and put his full support in the Roe v. Wade decision. Additionally, he wants to open more women’s clinics, expand access to contraception and “go back to the birds and the bees,” or increase sexual education.  If given the opportunity to repeal anti-abortion legislation, he will.

Valdez: “Healthcare is a right. Abortion is healthcare.”

Valdez took a similar stance to White’s and placed her trust in the ability of women to make their own healthcare decisions. She addressed the possible conflict between her Latino supporters and her pro-choice stance on abortion. She said Latino voters may not believe in abortion, but they do trust women. She supports the right of women to choose under any circumstance and sees it as a very personal decision.

Education

Valdez emphasized that the state has a responsibility to provide quality education. She says that for too long, that responsibility has been passed onto the local government. She would work to shift that weight back onto the state government. She supports universal pre-K as well. On top of that, she would implement free community college, including trade schools. Additionally, she would reprioritize the way money is being spent by the state government.

White stated that the single best investment that could be made in Texas education is universal, all day, high-quality pre-K. He also believes that we have to start paying teachers what they are worth and providing better retirement programs and cost-of-living adjustments. To pay for these measures, he would put together a plan to raise $9 billion for education. This would include diverting $800 million from border security and freeing up $5 billion by closing the property tax loophole for commercial properties.

Both the candidates had a major issue out of step with the party faithful

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