EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Texas gubernatorial candidates — incumbent Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke — met on stage tonight for the first time for a debate.
Within the first 12 minutes of the Debate, El Paso was brought up while discussing immigration.
Abbott spoke about El Paso busing migrants to New York and Chicago, after being questioned about his own busing of migrants to sanctuary states.
“The fact of the matter is, the El Paso mayor a Democrat, the El Paso City Council Democrats, they are now busing more people than the state of Texas is busing. And he’s not calling them out for them out,” Abbott said.
O’Rourke responded as the moderator told him they were going to move on.
“It’s a completely different program; it is apples to oranges, and I’ll tell you this hateful rhetoric this treating human beings as political pawns, talking about invasions in Texas, Texans defending themselves, that’s how people get killed at the Walmart in El Paso, the gentlemen in Hudspeth that we just learned about yesterday. This is dangerous for Texas and is not reflective of our values,” O’Rourke said.
El Paso Republicans and Democrats held watch parties Friday night during the debate. El Paso Republicans called for fact checks.
“Watching this debate just makes me want to tell people you need to go back and do your own research,” said Rhonda Davidson,an El Paso Republican.
“Bring it on with the fact checks, because I know they will all be true and then when they are proven true, I know the Republicans are going to say the fact-checkers are wrong,” said Michael Apodaca, the El Paso Democratic party chair.
The director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies, Dr. Richard Pineda, spoke with KTSM 9 News after the debate, calling it “one of Beto O’Rourke’s best performances”.
“I’m not entirely sure that there were enough viewers or that, that’s going to get replicated enough to have a big impact but if you’re Beto O’Rouke tonight this is huge,” said Pineda.
Pineda says Abbott spoke to his base, engaging with Republican voters who are already solidly on his side.
“I don’t necessarily know that there was one part of his performances that would have been valuable to swing Democratic voters that might have been on the verge of moving over,” said Pineda.
Themes throughout the debate from each candidate included Abbott saying O’Rourke has to flip flopped, changing his mind on issues. While O’Rourke repeatedly said Abbott has been in office for eight years and could have done the things he has proposed.
However, the two did shake hands at the end of the night.